By Nick Hunter
INDEPENDENCE, Minn. – Erasing a two-stroke deficit to begin the final round of the 2021 National Car Rental Minnesota Assistant PGA Championship at Windsong Farm Golf Club Monday, Ryan Gallagher carded a bogey-free 4-under 67 to claim a four-stroke victory over Brady Swedberg and Julian Ramirez.
Gallagher advances to the 45th National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship Nov. 11-14 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and will be joined by Swedberg and Ramirez, who placed in a tie for second at 1-under 141, as well as Jack Hiemenz, who fired an even par 142.
“Golf is my biggest passion—always has been,” Gallagher said following his win Monday. “It makes you question whether you want to keep doing a lot. Bad finishes and that stuff wears on you and to get through this by staying focused and taking one shot at a time is really meaningful.
“With my parents here at one of my favorite courses in the world, I couldn’t think of a better situation.”
Gallagher, a former St. John’s University golfer who now works at North Oaks Golf Club, bounced back from a rocky start to his opening round early Monday by carding four birdies during his inward nine to sit two-strokes back of Brett Gaustad’s 18-hole lead.
“My thought process was to stay patient and not get ahead of myself. I have a lot of experience walking 36 holes here,” said Gallagher, who played in the Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm while at St. John’s. “I hit really good putts for par and hit good shots, I just put myself in a couple bad spots.
“I didn’t really get flustered by it. Stayed patient—I’ve had a lot of rounds like that this season where I’ve started rough and got it back. I stayed focused because I knew there was a ton of golf ahead of us.”
Rolling in back-to-back birdies early during his second round Monday afternoon, Gallagher would move to 4-under for the championship by converting his birdie chance at the par-4 seventh.
Taking advantage of his birdie opportunity at the par-3 10th, Gallagher moved to 5-under and would cruise over the final eight holes to a second-round 67 to tally a 36-hole total of 5-under 137 for his first win in the Minnesota Section.
Since 2019, the 26-year-old Gallagher has notched 15 top-10 finishes, including three runner-up finishes over the last two seasons.
Swedberg, from Geneva Golf Club, entered Monday’s final 18 holes two shots off the lead after an opening-round 70, and would play his first 10 holes of the final round at even par. Rolling in his birdie chance at the par-4 11th put Swedberg at 2-under for the championship, but he would fall back to even with a double-bogey at the 12th.
He would bounce by converting his birdie opportunity at the 14th to post a 1-under 141 to earn a spot in the national assistant’s championship in November.
Opening the championship with an even par 71 early Monday, Ramirez (Medina Golf and Country Club) fell to 3-over for the tournament with a string of three consecutive bogeys during his front nine early in the second round, but would card four birdies over his final nine holes, including back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th to finish tied for second at 141.
Hiemenz, who claimed the inaugural Twin Cities Open in May at Tanners Brook Golf Club, fired one of five rounds below par to open the championship Monday, shooting a 2-under 69 to sit one shot back of the lead.
Carrying momentum into his second round Monday afternoon, Hiemenz (Victory Links Golf Course) carded a pair of early birdies to move to 4-under for the championship before back-to-back bogeys at the seventh and eighth holes dropped him back to even for the round.
Carding one birdie against three bogeys during his final nine holes, Hiemenz would finish the 36-hole championship in fourth place at even par 142.
THE 2021 NATIONAL CAR RENTAL MN ASSISTANT PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
WINDSONG FARM GOLF CLUB
6,951 YARDS, PAR 71
TUESDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Ryan Gallagher, North Oaks GC, 70-67—137 (qualifier)
T2. Brady Swedberg, Geneva GC, 70-71—141 (qualifier)
T2. Julian Ramirez, Medina G&CC, 71-70—141 (qualifier
4. Jack Hiemenz, Victory Links GC, 69-73—142 (qualifier)
T5. Brett Gaustad, White Bear YC, 68-76—144
T5. Jake Wherley, The Classic at Madden’s, 73-71—144
T7. Austin Eccleton, Minneapolis GC, 71-74—145
T7. Avery Radunz, Bearpath G&CC, 72-73—145
T9. Cameron White, PXG Minneapolis, 69-77—146
T9. Bennett Smed, The Classic at Madden’s, 72-74—146
T9. Andy Smith, Hazeltine Nat’l GC, 73-73—146
T9. Brian Russell, Austin CC, 74-72—146
For complete tournament results go to: MN PGA Assistants’ Championship – Overall Leaderboard | Minnesota PGA (bluegolf.com)