MAPLEWOOD, Minn. – Chris Borgen closed out the 2022 season with the first major victory of his career at the Minnesota Golf Champions last fall at Minneapolis Golf Club.
Despite a bogey on his 36th hole Wednesday, the 51-year-old professional claimed the second major victory of his career, shooting 2-under 142 at Keller Golf Course to win the 39th Minnesota Senior Open presented by Yamaha Golf and Utility.
“I had been practicing mainly for senior tournaments when I turned 50,” Borgen said following his win Wednesday. “Of course, you want to win, but I played well at [Minnesota Golf Champions] because I had been getting ready and working on my game.
“Playing with the young guys is tough because they hit it 50 yards by me. I figured I could compete with these guys a little bit better this week.”
Posting back-to-back rounds of 1-under 71, Borgen held off Richard Frieburg, four-time Minnesota Golf Association Senior Men’s Player of the Year Jerry Rose, Joel B. Johnson and defending champion Derek Stendahl to pick up his first victory of 2023.
“The course was tricky and the greens got firm,” he said. “I tend to play about the same when it gets windy, so I felt like I had a little bit of an advantage there. I wasn’t feeling really great about bogeying the last hole—I thought that was going to cost me.
“My intention was to get to 5-under, but it was playing tougher than I anticipated. I just hung in there and putted pretty well.”
Cruising through his first 10 holes during a hot and breezy final round Wednesday, Borgen (Lost Spur Golf Course) reached 3-under for the championship with his second birdie of the round at the par-5 10th.
He took the outright lead after converting his birdie chance at the 14th, but would stumble down the stretch with a pair of late bogeys.
However, a second straight round of 71 was just good enough for a one-stroke victory.
“I went back to an old putter because I putted pretty bad early in the year,” said Borgen, who added a new putter to his bag prior to Tuesday’s opening round. “I scraped it around and putted pretty well this week.
“I still have some things to work on, but if I can hit it a little better and keep putting like this, I should do pretty well.”
With his win Wednesday, Borgen has notched at least one win at section events in each of his last five seasons.
Frieburg, who claimed the 2019 Minnesota Public Golf Association Senior Public Links Championship at Green Haven Golf Course, began his final round two shots off the lead thanks to his 2-under 70 Tuesday.
The 62-year-old Frieburg earned a share of the lead with his second birdie of the final round at the par-4 ninth, but also stumbled down the stretch with three bogeys over his final seven holes to earn a share of low-amateur honors at 143.
“I was just hanging in there and hoping to keep the ball in play,” Frieburg said. “To be honest, the first day I finally found a swing and it felt good both days. I got a lot out of the round that I shouldn’t have. ”
Stendahl, who was looking to become the fifth player in tournament history with multiple wins, carded two birdies against one bogey over his first four holes Wednesday to join first-round leader Phil Ebner on top of the leaderboard at 4-under.
A three-putt bogey for Stendahl at the 11th was the first of three bogeys during his final nine holes, surrendering his lead to Borgen by dropping to 3-under.
Stendahl fell to 2-under after he was unable to save par at the 15th, but he remained one back of Borgen before failing to convert his par putt from eight feet at the 17th.
A par at the last gave Stendahl (Rush Creek Golf Club) a share of second at 1-under 143.
Rose, the 2021 MGA Senior Players’ champion, posted a 1-over 73 during Tuesday’s opening round before coming out with a flurry of birdies to begin his final round, quickly moving to 2-under after his first three holes.
He would turn in 1-under for his day before falling back to even with his bogey at the 12th.
The 64-year-old Rose again got hot late by sinking birdies at the 16th and 18th holes to pull within one stroke of the lead to finish at 143.
Johnson, winner of the 2021 MPGA Mid Public Links Championship, opened the championship with a 1-under 71 Tuesday, but got off to a sluggish start to the final round Wednesday by carding three bogeys over his first eight holes.
A pair of birdies over his next five holes moved Johnson to even par for the championship, but he’d give back a stroke with bogey at the 15th.
Johnson finished strong with birdies at the 16th and 17th to earn a share of low-amateur honors with Frieburg and Rose at 143.
A final-round 70 helped John Mugford to a tie for sixth place with 2011 champion Bill Israelson at even par 144.
Don Berry (Edinburgh USA), a seven-time champion, carded a final-round 72 to finish tied for eighth with George Smith (StoneRidge GC), who posted an identical 36-hole tally of 73-72—145.
Eric Chiles (Chaska TC) climbed six spots on the final day by posting an even par 72 to place 11th at 2-over 146, while Russ Simenson (Castle Highlands GC), who notched a third-place finish in 2021, jumped 12 spots on the leaderboard during the final round to finish tied for 12th at 147.
THE 39TH MINNESOTA SENIOR OPEN
KELLER GOLF COURSE
6,677 YARDS, PAR 72
WEDNESDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Chris Borgen (p), Lost Spur GC, 71-71—142
T2. Jerry Rose, Alexandria GC, 73-70—143
T2. Richard Frieburg, Monticello CC, 70-73—143
T2. Joel B. Johnson, Links at Northfork, 71-72—143
T2. Derek Stendahl (p), Rush Creek GC, 69-74—143
T6. John Mugford, Chaska TC, 74-70—144
T6. Bill Israelson (p), Bemidji T&CC, 73-71—144
T8. Eric Rislove, Prestwick GC, 74-71—144
T8. Don Berry (p), Edinburgh USA, 73-72—145
T8. George Smith (p), StoneRidge GC, 73-72—145
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/mnpga23/event/mnpga2316/contest/13/leaderboard.htm