A Second-Round 68 Moves Aldrich to Top of Leaderboard at MGA Senior Amateur
September 26, 2023 | 4 min.
By Nick Hunter
WAYZATA, Minn. – Mark Aldrich knows the ins and outs of Wayzata Country Club better than most of the field at this week’s Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship.
Growing up near the third hole, Aldrich spent most weekends learning the game on the course before working on the grounds crew for six seasons.
That knowledge paid dividends Tuesday as Aldrich fired the low round of the tournament, a 4-under 68, to move one step closer to collecting his sixth state title.
“Huge home-course advantage because I taught myself how to play golf on this course from the age of five until I was 15,” Aldrich said Tuesday. “I just know the course really well—basically every inch of it.”
Runner-up at the MGA Senior Players’ Championship in June, Aldrich will need to fend off the defending MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year, John Brellenthin, during Wednesday’s final round to claim his first state win in 10 years.
“I putted really well—I made eight birdies, but I drove the ball really well, too,” said Aldrich. “The rough is six inches long and wet—it’s brutal. When it’s this wet and soggy and playing so long, you have to drive it well.”
Entering Tuesday’s second round two shots back, Aldrich began on the 10th tee and played his opening nine in even par before sinking back-to-back birdies to open his inward nine, reaching 3-under for the championship.
Trading a birdie with two bogeys over his next three, Aldrich slipped to 2-under before closing out his round with three consecutive birdies, highlighted by a 20-foot putt at the eighth to shoot 4-under 68, taking the outright lead by one stroke over Brellenthin at 5-under 139.
“Finding the fairways and greens is crucial. The greens are huge, but you have to be aggressive and hit it close, but still keep the ball below the hole,” Aldrich said. “For me, it’s all about driving the ball well and having 12-footers for birdie.”
Winner of two MGA Amateur Team titles in 2002 and 2013, Aldrich teamed up with sister, Betsy, to win the 2007 MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship at Forest Hills Golf Club.
He also earned a pair of victories at the MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Erik Christopherson in 2009 and 2011.
Earlier this season, the 55-year-old Aldrich advanced to the finals of the MGA Senior Players’ Championship at Alexandria Golf Club before falling to eventual champion Jerry Rose, 6 and 4.
Since, Aldrich has claimed two more top-10 finishes at state senior events this season.
Brellenthin enters the week riding momentum from a second consecutive victory at the MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Tim Peterson two weeks ago at Eagle Creek Golf Club, his third state victory in three seasons.
A former University of Minnesota teammate of Peterson, Brellenthin became the first player in 20 years to win the MGA Senior Amateur on his home course when he claimed the weather-shortened event in 2020 at The Minikahda Club.
Bouncing back from early trouble to begin both of his rounds this week, Brellenthin recorded back-to-back rounds of 2-under 70 to remain within striking distance of Aldrich ahead of Wednesday’s final tilt.
“We got lucky with the best draw this week,” said Brellenthin, who avoided a pair of stoppages during Monday’s opening round and light rain during the second round Tuesday. “It started raining on our 18th hole yesterday and about our 14th hole today, so super lucky.
“Today I got off to a rough start—I was really struggling and a little out of sync. I finally hit a shot on the face [on No. 4] and got it going again. I started hitting it more solidly and found the fairway. Made a couple of nice putts.”
Playing his first seven holes in 2-over Tuesday, Brellenthin shifted momentum by rolling in a 20-footer for birdie at the par-3 eighth.
After converting back-to-back birdie chances at the 11th and 12th, Brellenthin moved to 3-under for the championship and closed out his round by dropping a 12-footer for birdie at the 18th to post a second round of 70 to sit one shot off the lead.
Peterson, the 2021 MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year, carded two early birdies to begin his round Tuesday to quickly climb the leaderboard, but carded two bogeys over his final 12 holes to post a second-round 72. He will begin Wednesday’s final round tied for third at 1-under 143 with 2017 champion David Haslerud.
Haslerud, who earned back-to-back wins at the MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Matt Yeager in 2020 and 2021, fired an even par 72 to open the championship Monday before a pair of birdies during his final nine Tuesday lifted him into a share of third by carding a 1-under 71.
The final round of the 102nd MGA Senior Amateur Championship gets underway at 8 a.m. Wednesday at Wayzata Country Club.