Schmitz Leaves No Doubt, Cruises to Victory in Minnesota Golf Champions
There was no denying Sammy Schmitz of StoneRidge GC on the final day of the Golf Champions as he cruised to victory at Dellwood Country Club with a final round 1-under 71; giving him an 8-under 208 three-day total. This was the amateur’s first Minnesota Golf Champions title, and he did it in convincing fashion winning by six shots over 2016 State Open champ Ben Greve of Minneapolis GC.
Defending champ Ryan Helminen of Ridgeway CC began the day in sole possession of second place at 3-under but struggled to regain first round form as he followed up his second day 75 with a 4-over 76 on the final day.
The low professional was Donald Constable of Spring Hill GC who finished tied for third at 1-under with Andrew McCain of Dellwood CC.
Like he had all weekend, Schmitz came out strong with a 12-foot birdie on the par-4 2nd after a great approach shot to quickly move to 1-under on the day. He added another birdie on the par-5 5th from about 10-feet out.
“I came into today trying to keep it in play and hopefully get off to a good start,” said Schmitz. “I was 3-under on the front nine the first two days, and I thought if I could get off to that same start again, things would go my way.”
“I played the front nine pretty strong; 1-under was a very good start. I liked my chances heading into the back,” he added.
On the other hand, Helminen would suffer back to back bogeys on the 2nd and 3rd to dig himself a deeper hole. He would match Schmitz’s birdie on the par-5 5th but made the turn five shots back of Schmitz; never becoming a serious threat again.
Jeff Sorenson of The Minikahda Club briefly made it interesting posting a 2-under on the front nine to make the turn at 4-under for the tournament—four shots back of the lead.
Sorenson’s window of opportunity quickly closed as he bogeyed the par-4 11th and doubled both the 12th and 15th.
He and Helminen finished in a three-way tie for seventh with Brent Snyder of Troy Burne.
With Helminen and Sorenson out of the picture, Schmitz was in cruise control and playing conservative the rest of the way. He provided what was the proverbial dagger with a 10-foot birdie on the par-5 13th.
Schmitz would finish the back nine even-par after a bogey on the par-5 17th.
He will be the first one to tell you that he loves playing this course. Schmitz won the 2011 Mid-Amateur at Dellwood CC and Tanner’s Brook GC.
“It takes driver out of a lot of people’s hands and it kind of evens the field. It’s a ball-striker’s course and you’re not going to have 350-yard bombs with driver; I think I averaged three or four [tee] shots with the driver per round.”
He admitted that this victory meant a lot as a victory in the Golf Champions had eluded him in the past.
“Yeah this is a big one for me. I’ve played in it numerous times and placed second a few times. It’s great to play this well this early in the season. Things are good,” Schmitz said smiling.
Schmitz’s win marks the first time in 12 years that an amateur has won the Golf Champions since Clayton Rask did it in 2005.
Special thanks to the host course Dellwood CC and our presenting sponsors Clarity Sound Design & Vision and York Solutions.