By Nick Hunter
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Four-time winner Don Berry is among five players atop a crowded leaderboard at the Minnesota Senior PGA Professional Championship presented Cadillac following Monday’s Opening round at Highland National Golf Course.
Berry, whose most recent win at the event came in 2020 at Medina Golf and Country Club, posted a 2-under 70 to share the first-round lead with George Smith, Derek Stendahl, Jeff Kringen and Chris Borgen.
Berry, of Edinburgh USA, carded an early birdie during his opening nine Monday, and would bounce back from a string of three bogeys over a four-hole stretch midround by converting birdie chances on four of his final seven holes.
The 61-year-old Berry won three consecutive championships beginning in 2014 prior to his win three seasons ago.
Smith, from StroneRidge Golf Club, carded a lone birdie during his opening nine Monday, turning in 1-under before rolling in a second birdie of the day at the par-5 10th.
He moved to 3-under by taking advantage of his birdie look at the 15th, but gave back a stroke with his only bogey of the round at the 16th to join Berry at 2-under 70.
Winner of the 2022 Minnesota Senior Open, Stendahl moved into red figures with a birdie at the par-5 fifth, but would turn in 1-over following a pair of bogeys at the seventh and eighth holes.
Stendahl, of Rush Creek Golf Club, found his footing during his final nine holes by carding three birdies over his final six holes to join the clubhouse lead with a 2-under 70.
Getting off to a fast start, Kringen rolled in a birdie opportunity on his first hole of the day Monday to quickly move to 1-under for the championship.
He would begin his back nine with a birdie at the 12th and followed it with his third birdie of the day at the 14th to reach 3-under for the round.
A bogey at the 15th put Kringen into a five-way share of the lead with his opening-round 70.
Borgen, who ended the 2022 season with a win at Minnesota Golf Champions and began this season with a victory at the Minnesota Senior Open, tallied a pair of birdies over his first eight holes, which were negated by bogeys at the ninth and 10th to send him back to even par.
The 51-year-old Borgen answered with birdies at the 12th and 14th holes to earn a share of the lead as he looks for his third section win of the season.
Six-time champion Bill Israelson fired a 1-under 71 Monday to earn a share of sixth place, and will begin Tuesday’s final round one shot off the lead with Chris Peterson.
The final round of the 49th Minnesota Senior PGA Professional Championship is slated to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Highland National Golf Course.
THE 49TH MINNESOTA SENIOR PGA PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
HIGHLAND NATIONAL GOLF COURSE
ST. PAUL, MINN.
6,638 YARDS, PAR 72
MONDAY’S FIRST ROUND RESULTS
T1. George Smith, StoneRidge GC, 35-35—70
T1. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, 37-33—70
T1. Derek Stendahl, Rush Creek GC, 37-33—70
T1. Jeff Kringen, Spring Hill GC, 35-35—70
T1. Chris Borgen, Lost Spur GC, 35-35—70
T6. Bill Israelson, Bemidji T&CC, 36-35—71
T6. Chris Peterson, Oak Glen GC, 33-38—71
T8. Erik Toftner, Hiawatha GC, 36-37—73
T8. Ty Armstrong, GolfTEC, 37-36—73
T8. Eric Chiles, Chaska TC, 35-38—73
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.