By Nick Hunter
FOREST LAKE, Minn. – Posting back-to-back rounds in the 60s for the first time in his professional career this week, Jack Hiemenz ran away from the field Wednesday with a five-stroke victory over Michael Schmitz at the inaugural Twin Cities Open at Tanners Brook Golf Club.
Hiemenz opened the championship with a 3-under 68 Tuesday, taking a slim one-stroke lead to the final round where he would finish the 36-hole championship as the only player in the field to break par during both rounds, capturing the biggest win of his career to date.
“This is, by far, the best win so far—I played great for 36 holes,” the 25-year-old Hiemenz said Wednesday, claiming the third win of his career. “Obviously, I’d like to win as much as possible, but I just need to stay positive and know that I can win out here.
“I was a little nervous to start—I’ve never really been in this situation a lot, but my game is feeling good and hopefully this becomes more familiar.”
The only nerves evident in Hiemenz’s game Wednesday was a tee shot that found the penalty area left of the second fairway. He would drop and proceed to put his third shot on the green and two-putt for bogey before drawing even for the round with a two-putt birdie at the fourth.
“Putting it on the green and making bogey after hitting it in the weeds on two and after the birdie [at No. 4], I settled down a lot, felt pretty confident and didn’t really have the jitters anymore,” he said.
A second two-putt birdie at the par-5 ninth sent Hiemenz to the back nine with a three-stroke lead, but a second errant tee shot at the 10th led to Hiemenz’s second bogey of the round. Nearly holing his chip from short-right of the 10th green, Hiemenz limited the damage by sinking a 4-footer for bogey.
Hiemenz, the first assistant professional at Victory Links Golf Course, began to pull away early on his inward nine by sinking a 20-footer for birdie at the 12th and followed it by dropping his uphill birdie look from eight feet at the 13th. After one final two-putt birdie at the 16th, Hiemenz rolled in a short par putt at the 18th for a convincing five-stroke victory at 6-under 136.
“The goal was to play what was in front of me and try not to get too aggressive. I’ve played a lot of golf with [Schmitz] and know he can make a lot of birdies,” Hiemenz said. “I knew if I stuck with him that I’d be in a good spot. I continued to play my game, didn’t force anything and it worked out.
“I had the same plan as yesterday—I played the par-3’s really well again today at 1-under and the par-5’s at 3-under. I was really happy with the putter this week. It seemed like if I got in trouble, that I could rely on the putter. I had a couple good saves and good momentum builders. The putter felt really good, ball-striking was there, so things are starting to come together.”
Hiemenz won his first event as a professional at the Grand View Lodge Challenge in 2019, and followed it with his second win at an assistant’s event at Rush Creek the following season.
Schmitz entered the round one shot back of Hiemenz following his round of 69 Tuesday, but was unable to establish any consistency early during the final 18 holes Wednesday, carding a costly double-bogey late on his front nine.
“I thought the course played a little tougher today—it was a little drier and the pins were a little tougher, overall,” Schmitz said. “The thing I take away is the par-3’s. I played the par-3’s at [4-over today] and to shoot 71 kind of killed me.
“It was pretty up-and-down, but I was happy to make a putt there on 18 to finish solo second.”
Wednesday’s finish for Schmitz marks yet another close call for the former Winona State University golfer, collecting eight top-10 finishes at championships in the state over the past three seasons.
Most recently, Schmitz finished sixth at last fall’s Minnesota Golf Champions at Golden Valley Country Club before traveling to Arizona for the winter, turning professional in December and competing in one event on the Outlaw Tour.
Despite two early bogeys, Schmitz rebounded with birdies at six and seven to pull within one shot of Hiemenz, but his tee shot at the par-3 eighth hit the cart path and took a treacherous bounce into the woods, leading to double-bogey.
Schmitz sank a long birdie to begin his back nine, but again was plagued by back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th to fall back to even. He ended his round by getting up-and-down at the par-5 18th for birdie to finish five back at 1-under 141.
Posting a 4-over 75 to begin the tournament Tuesday, professional Matt Newman fired a 1-under 70 during his final 18 Wednesday to finish in third place at even par 142, while Brady Hanson matched Hiemenz’s low round of the day with a 68 to finish fourth at 143.
THE 2021 TWIN CITIES OPEN
TANNERS BROOK GOLF CLUB
FOREST LAKE, MINN.
6,783 YARDS, PAR 71
WEDNESDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Jack Hiemenz (p), Victory Links GC, 68-68—136
2. Michael Schmitz (p), unattached, 69-72—141
3. Matt Newman (p), Medina G&CC, 72-70—142
4. Brady Hanson (p), 2nd Swing, 75-68—143
T5. Eddie Wynne (p), University GC, 74-70—144
T5. Josh Whalen (p), GolfTEC, 71-73—144
T5. Jack Gustafson (p), Timber Creek GC, 71-73—144
T5. Joel B. Johnson, Links at Northfork, 70-74—144
T9. Andrew Israelson, Vintage GC, 74-71—145
T9. Alex Uloth (p), Troy Burne GC, 72-73—145
T9. Trey Fessler, Medina G&CC, 72-73—145
T9. Brent Snyder (p), Troy Burne GC, 71-74—145
T9. Thomas Campbell (p), 2nd Swing, 71-74—145
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.com/