7 Down with 7 to Go, Israelson the Younger Comes back to Win at Southview

June 9, 2024 | 7 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle



WEST ST. PAUL -- There really wasn't anything about the way Andrew Israelson's final round in the Minnesota PGA Foundation Pro-Am was going on Sunday to suggest that he was going to win the tournament. Starting on the back nine at Southview Country Club, he was two behind the 36-hole leader, Michael Schmitz, and the deficit quickly became four when Israelson bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes. From there, it got worse, and he was trailing by seven by the time he was playing the first hole. 

But a holed wedge shot reversed his fortunes, dramatically, and Israelson put on a spectacular rally on the front nine in spite of heavy winds (17 mph, gusting to 30), shot a 3-under 68 and won the tournament by two strokes with a 54-hole total of 203 (-10).

The victory was worth $5,000 to the 26-year-old Minneapolis Golf Club assistant pro.  

"I can definitely use the money," Israelson said, smiling as he accepted the check.

Schmitz finished second at 205 (worth $3,000), with a  final round of 72. Ross Miller, a two-time former champion, was one of only two players other than Israelson to break par. He shot 70 and moved up four places, from seventh to third with an aggregate of 208. Grant Shifranski (72) and Scott Cole (71) tied for fourth at 209. The third player to beat par  Sunday was Brady Swedberg, who closed with a 69 and finished fourth at 210. 

After beginning his round with those two bogeys at 10 and 11, Israelson got started in the right direction with a birdie at the 12th hole. But Schmitz birdied it, too. A birdie at the par-3 15th by Israelson was offset by a bogey at the 16th, and not only did he fail to birdie the easily-reachable-in-two, par-5 17th (488 yards), but he bogeyed the also-easily-reachable par-5 18th (475), a hole that Schmitz, playing right behind him, eagled. So by the time Israelson got to the front nine, he was seven behind, and not thinking about winning.

"I made a really bad bogey on 18, and I was mad about that," he said afterward. "But I was thinking: 'Just try to shoot 4 or 5 under on the front, and make sure you finish second.' I really wasn't thinkng about winning. I just wanted to play the front nine as well as I could, and then see what happens."

A couple of missed birdie chances on the first and second holes didn't make him feel any better. He was still seven down to Schmitz, and now with only seven holes to go. But then he holed a 97-yard wedge shot for an eagle 2 at the 356-yard third hole, and suddenly, the complexion of things changed.

Although winning the tournament didn't necessarily seem within reach yet, Israelson had just gained two strokes on Schmitz, and it became three when Schmitz bogeyed the third. Israelson hit his tee shot at the 477-yard, par-5 fourth hole into the third fairway on Saturday, unintentionally. But on Sunday, he decided that was the way to go, hit a wedge onto the green for his second shot, and two-putted for a birdie. He hit a 5-iron shot onto the green at the 201-yard, par-3 fifth, the hardest hole on the front nine, and made a par, which put him within two of Schmitz, who parred the fourth and bogeyed the fifth.

In recent years, Southview has developed several native areas around the course. The fescue in those areas has grown to more that a foot in height -- and gotten devastatingly thick -- during the past couple of weeks, and the native areas played a significant role in the Foundation Pro-Am this weekend. Especially on Sunday, when Schmitz got tangled up in the native area adjacent to the par-5 sixth hole. The result was a double bogey.

At roughly the same time as that was happening, Israelson was draining a 40-foot putt for birdie up ahead on the seventh green -- and now he was one ahead. 

"When I got to the eighth tee, I saw that I was leading," he noted, "and I was thinking: 'What just happened back there?' "

This tournament was called the Tapemark for 52 years (1972 through 2023), and Israelson's father, Bill, won it twice, in 1991 and '93.

"He was really aggressive," Andrew said Sunday. "He was always smart about it, but he was definitely aggressive. And whenever I play with him, if I pull out an iron on a par 4 or a par 5, he doesn't like it."

Nevertheless, Andrew was thinking about hitting a 4-iron off the tee at the 360-yard, par-4 eighth. Then he changed his mind and switched to his driver, which he hits an average of 305 to 310 yards in the air. His father would have approved, and it turned out to be a very good decision. He flew the ball right around 320 yards in the air, onto the slope above and to the left of the green. The ball bounced right at approximately a 45-degree angle, toward the green, and rolled diagonally across the green, missing the pin by less than 2 feet. It ended up in a hollow just the the right of the green, about 18 feet from the cup. The ball was in the rough, but it was an easy chip.

From there, Israelson nearly holed it, and had a tap-in for a birdie. 

He had just gone 5 under in a span of six holes. Meanwhile, Schmitz, after a bogey at the seventh, had gone 5 over in five holes  -- and Israelson was leading the tournament by three shots.

Schmitz cut the final deficit to two by making a birdie at the ninth. 


Minnesota PGA Foundation Pro-Am

At Southview Country Club

Par 71, 6,023 yards

West St. Paul 

Final results 

Professionals


1. Andrew Israelson                           67-68-68--203

2. Michael Schmitz                            67-66-72--205

3. Ross Miller                                    70-68-70--208

T4. Scott Cole                                   67-71-71--209

T4. Grant Shafranski                         68-69-72--209

6. Brady Swedberg                           70-71-69--210

T7. Trey Fessler                                70-70-71--211

T7. Thomas Strandemo                    71-69-71--211

T9. Brent Snyder                              70-69-73--212

T9. Don Berry                                   69-69-74--212

T9. Thomas Campbell                      65-71-76--212

T12. Chris Borgen                            69-67-77--213

T12. Derek Holmes                           67-72-74--213

T14. Jack Ebner                                68-71-75--214

T14. Bennett Smed                           71-70--73--214

17. Lucas Johnson                            69-73-73--215

18. Eric Chiles                                  70-67-80--217


Amateurs

1. Justin Burleson                               66-71-77--214

2. Joe Honsa                                       72-74-69--215

T3. Logan Mitchell                              77-75-75--227

T3. Eric Hayne                                   74-78-75--227


Teams

1. Smed/Burleson/Retka/Kennedy      125-129-133--387

2. Snyder/Wood/Wood/Honsa             133-125-130--388

T3. Wynne.Dew/Angell/Kane               131-126-132--389

T3. Israelson/Flynn/Larson/Busho       129-127-133--389





 

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website, mngolf.org, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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