By Nick Hunter

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – At the 2019 Minnesota PGA Match Play Championship at Chaska Town Course, former University of Minnesota golfer Thomas Campbell staged a late rally by sinking his birdie putt at the 17th hole, eventually defeating five-time champion Don Berry in extra holes.

On Wednesday, Berry returned the favor by trickling in his birdie putt from 15 feet at the 17th hole at Mendakota Country Club to edge Campbell, 2 and 1, and claim his sixth Minnesota PGA Match Play title.

“I played well this morning—I never made a bogey and never missed a green. I think I was as 5-under, so really solid,” Berry said Wednesday. “This afternoon I was a little scratchy and didn’t play nearly as well.

“I really just wanted to play better and get a feel for Friday at [the Minnesota Golf Champions]. I have a lot of stuff coming up. I haven’t played much and all of the sudden I have a two-week stretch where I’m playing a ton.”

Berry erased an early deficit by playing his final 11 holes in 1-under to claim his first victory at the event in 17 seasons, snapping a string of eight runner-up finishes dating back to 2007.

“I never thought I’d win it again,” Berry said. “I’ve played great some rounds, played some bad ones, obviously, and lost in extra holes a couple of times. I was starting to think—I don’t think I’m a choker, but you lose 10 or 12 in a row and start to wonder what’s going on.

“You’re always up against good players, but I’m really happy to win one more of these. I never thought I would.”

Berry fell behind Campbell quickly Wednesday, down by two through six holes before chipping away at Campbell’s lead by sinking a 12-footer for birdie at the seventh to cut Campbell’s lead in half.

Rolling in another lengthy birdie putt from outside of 10 feet at the 13th, Berry would draw even with Campbell before taking his first lead of the match following a Campbell bogey at the par-4 16th. Berry closed out the match on the ensuing hole when his birdie chance found the bottom of the cup for the win, 2 and 1.

The Minnesota PGA Match Play Championship is a season-long event, which began in early May. Berry, the No. 4 seed for the championship, earned a first-round bye before defeating Chad Gustafson, 3 and 2.

Berry edged George Smith, 1-up, to reach the quarterfinal round, where he outlasted 2018 champion Eric Rolland in 23 holes. Berry squared off against Jesse Nelson during Wednesday’s first semifinal match and would go on to win, 4 and 3, to reach the championship match for the second time in three seasons.

“I haven’t played really well and I haven’t been putting really well,” said Berry. “I’ve been hitting the ball fairly decent, but chipping and putting hasn’t been very good for me. I’ve always felt like that’s a good part of my game, and lately it hasn’t been.

“Playing better, whether I won or lost, was really my only goal, but I didn’t think I would beat either one of those guys today.”

Berry remains two wins shy of George Shortridge’s record of eight tournament victories (1971, 1973, 1976-78, 1985, 1987, 1993).

Moving forward, Berry now looks for his sixth win at the Minnesota Golf Champions, beginning Friday at Minneapolis Golf Club before heading to Chicago for a TaylorMade event next week. Berry then travels to Port St. Lucie, Fla., next month to compete in the 33rd Senior PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club.

The 59-year-old longtime professional at Edinburgh USA claims his second win of the season Wednesday, notching his first at the RRH Scholarship Pro-Am at Rum River Hills Golf Club last month by shooting a 6-under 65 for a three-stroke victory.

In 28 starts this year, Berry has claimed 18 top-10 finishes and collected nearly $20,000 in winnings.

Smith Holds off Ause to Win Inaugural MN PGA Women’s Match Play Championship

Professional Savannah Smith pulled out a late victory against Angie Ause Wednesday, winning the 15th and 16th holes to claim the inaugural Minnesota PGA Women’s Match Play Championship at Mendakota Country Club.

Smith, from Crosswoods Golf Course, earns her second win of the season after helping earn a one-stroke victory in the team competition of the 50th Minnesota PGA Tapemark Pro-Am at Southview Country Club in June.

“I was a little shaky in the first match this morning, but finally made a couple birdies and started to feel it a little more on the back nine,” Smith said Wednesday. “My putting, overall, is what saved me in the end; I rolled some good putts in.

“I’ve played a lot of golf with Angie and we’re usually neck-and-neck, so I knew it was going to be a close match,” Smith said. “It went back-and-forth quite a bit, so it was definitely a grind all the way until hole 17.

Capitalizing on a pair of early bogeys by Ause to begin the final match, Smith quickly jumped out to a 2-up lead before sinking her birdie chance at the par-5 fifth hole to go up by three.

Ause battled by carding her first birdie of the round at the eighth and would chip in for birdie at the 11th to pull within one. Taking advantage of a Smith bogey at the 12th, Ause tied the match, but Smith would pull away late by winning the 15th and 16th holes on her way to a slim victory, 2 and 1.

“I definitely struggled off the tee today. This course did not set up to my eye very well, so I was just trying to work through some stuff off the tee. It was a little bit of a scramble—getting out of the woods and hitting some punch shots.

As the No. 3 seed for the championship, Smith earned a first-round bye back in May before her victory over Kristen Rosaasen, 5 and 4, to reach the semifinal round. Smith would defeat Kristen Meyer, of Rochester Golf and Country Club, to earn a spot in the final match against Ause, 4 and 3.

7,001 YARDS, PAR 72

Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, def. Thomas Campbell, 2nd Swing, 2 and 1.

Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, def. Jesse Nelson, Whitefish Golf Club, 4 and 3.
Thomas Campbell, 2nd Swing, def. Mitch Mackedanz, Bemidji T&CC, 5 and 4.

For complete tournament results go to:

5,878 YARDS, PAR 72

Savannah Smith, Crosswoods GC, def. Angie Ause, Oak Marsh GC, 2 and 1.

Savannah Smith, Crosswoods GC, def. Kristen Meyer, Rochester G&CC, 4 and 3.
Angie Ause, Oak Marsh GC, def. Catherine Wagner, MN PGA, 5 and 4.

For complete tournament results go to: