By Nick Hunter
FOREST LAKE, Minn. – Boosted by a string of five birdies in a row Monday at Medina Golf and Country Club, professional Jack Hiemenz posted a round of even par 72 to advance through local qualifying and moving one step closer to advancing to the U.S. Open.
Carding a 3-under 68 Tuesday at Tanners Brook Golf Course, Hiemenz paced the field to take the early lead, moving one step closer to earning his first victory of the season at the inaugural Twin Cities Open.
“Making five birdies in a row yesterday at U.S. Open Local Qualifying kind of carried over into today to the start of the round,” Hiemenz said Tuesday. “My putter was good and I played the par-3’s in 1-under, which was big because those are some tough holes. I played the par-5’s in 3-under, so I did what I had to do.”
Hiemenz will carry a slim one-stroke lead over fellow professional and former Winona State University golfer Michael Schmitz when the final round gets underway Wednesday.
Beginning his round on the 10th tee Tuesday, Hiemenz birdied three of his last six holes on his front nine to turn in 3-under before chipping in for birdie from 40 yards at the par-4 first.
Hiemenz’s first bogey of the round came at the par-3 second after missing the green long and failing to get up-and-down. He answered by rolling in a 12-footer for birdie at the fourth, but it was negated by his second bogey of the day at the par-4 sixth.
“My goal was to finish strong today. Yesterday during the qualifier, I finished bogey-par-double,” Hiemenz said. “I told myself to finish par-par-par today, so I achieved that goal.
“I’m usually a good putter, but I haven’t putted the ball that well to start the year. I spent the winter down in Arizona and putted really well, so it’s nice to really get it rolling again this week. If I play smart and attack the [par-5’s] again—they’re all getable. The main thing will be to keep the ball in the fairway.”
Hiemenz, who recently turned 25-years-old, is the first assistant professional at Victory Links Golf Course, where he’s worked since he was 16. He claimed his first win in the section in 2019, claiming the Grand View Lodge Challenge and followed it with a second win in 2020.
Schmitz, who notched four top-10 finishes at state championships last season prior to turning professional in December, played his first eight holes in even par Tuesday before carding back-to-back birdies mid-round.
Chipping inside of four feet at the ninth, Schmitz converted his birdie chance and would roll in a 10-footer at the 10th to move to 2-under for the round.
“Made a really good putt [on 10] and felt like I got some good momentum and I could go a little bit,” he said. “I had a bunch of looks after that, but nothing inside of five feet. Other than the three-putt on 18, I thought I rolled it well.”
Schmitz carded eight consecutive pars close out his round in second place at 2-under 69, one shot off the lead.
“I was solid and hit the ball really well today. I made some putts that I was supposed to—made a lot from three to five feet.”
Owning one of the more colorful scorecards Tuesday, was amateur Joel B. Johnson, who called Tanners Brook his home course nearly a decade ago, carding a 1-under 70 despite seven birdies on his scorecard.
“This is one of the few tracks that’s actually near my house, so I can actually have a home game,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I just wanted to come in and get some tournament experience to get the year going.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of frustration today. Iron play is usually the best part of my game and it was really good today, but my putting was either great or terrible. I just have to putt better tomorrow. If I made putts inside of five feet, I would’ve shot 66 today.”
Defending Minnesota PGA Section Player of the Year Brent Snyder posted an even par 71 Tuesday and will begin the final round tied for fourth with professionals Jack Gustafson, Thomas Campbell and Josh Whalen.
The inaugural Twin Cities Open concludes Wednesday with final-round tee times beginning at 8 a.m. at Tanners Brook Golf Course.
THE 2021 TWIN CITIES OPEN
TANNERS BROOK GOLF COURSE
FOREST LAKE, MINN.
6,783 YARDS, PAR 71
TUESDAY’S FIRST ROUND RESULTS
1. Jack Hiemenz (p), Victory Links GC, 36-32—68
2. Michael Schmitz (p), unattached, 35-34—69
3. Joel B. Johnson, The Links at Northfork, 35-35—70
T4. Brent Snyder (p), Troy Burne GC, 36-35—71
T4. Jack Gustafson (p), Timber Creek GC, 36-35—71
T4. Thomas Campbell (p), 2nd Swing, 37-34—71
T4. Josh Whalen (p), GolfTEC, 37-34—71
T8. Matt Newman (p), Medina G&CC, 39-33—72
T8. Trey Fessler, Medina G&CC, 36-36—72
T8. Eric Rolland (p), Augsburg College, 35-37—72
T8. Alex Uloth (p), Troy Burne GC, 36-36—72
T8. Sam Strachan (p), GolfTEC, 33-39—72
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.com/