Dallas resident and amateur John Brellenthin, born and raised in Minneapolis and a former member of the University of Minnesota men’s golf team from 1983-86, fired a final round 2-over 74 to win the 2018 Minnesota Senior Open at Dakota Pines Golf Club. Brellenthin had a 1-over 145 two-day total to edge five-time Senior Open champion Don Berry. Berry was the low professional at 2-over 146.
Amazingly enough, this was Brellenthin’s first competitive stroke play event since 2000 where he finished third in the Minnesota State Amateur at Bearpath Golf & Country Club.
“I started playing golf again a few months ago after spending most of my time working on Wall Street. I’m 54 years old and thought maybe I could play some senior amateur golf and being from Minneapolis, I saw my parents and told them I’d play in the Senior Open,” said Brellenthin. “My expectations were very, very low. I think I’m more surprised than anyone that I won.”
Brellenthin entered the day with a one-shot lead over Dakota Pines’ own Brad Schmierer at 1-under. It was a tough day for the field as the low-round of the day was an even-par from the defending champ Berry.
“The golf course was set up great, and I played better than I thought I would,” Brellenthin said still shocked at what just occurred. “I haven’t played this golf course since the 80’s and it is significantly tougher now than it was then.”
Schmierer had the wheels come off on the back with a double-bogey on the par-4 11th and never could recover. Berry and Brellenthin were neck and neck on the back nine when Berry posted back to back birdies at both the par-4 12th and 13th to get his first share of the lead with Brellenthin. A bogey from Brellenthin on the par-4 14th gave Berry sole possession of the lead.
Last year, down the stretch Berry finished 5-under in as many holes. Today was a different story as an errant tee shot led to a bogey on the par-5 16th and another tee shot found the left greenside bunker on the par-3 17th. A failed up and down conversion gave Berry his second straight bogey and moved him into second place.
Brellenthin was able to grind out a victory with four consecutive pars to finish including a 15-foot two-putt for the win on the par-4 18th after a great approach.
“I haven’t played tournament golf in a really long time,” he emphasized. “I tried to hit it in the fairway and put it on the green and make par.”
“Every hole I parred was one less I had to play,” he added chuckling.
He hopes to build off this momentum as he travels back to Texas for the Texas State Amateur.