Johnson, Peterson and Conn Contenders Again at MGA Mid-Players' Championship
June 14, 2022
By Nick Hunter
LAKE ELMO, Minn. – Prior to winning the Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Players’ Championship last season at Giants Ridge, Troy Johnson had to wait seven years before hoisting a state championship trophy.
After runner-up finish at the Minnesota Senior Open earlier this month, and two wins to begin the 16th MGA Mid-Players’ Championship Monday at Royal Golf Club, it appears Johnson isn’t willing to be as patient for his next win.
“I wasn’t really on my game for the first nine holes today,” Johnson said. “I started hitting the ball better and played pretty solid for the last round and a half. I was a couple under during the back nine of my first match and three or four under through 14 holes of the second.
“It’s tough to hit it close and make putts on these greens, but I made a few birdies and was really consistent. I had two bogeys in two rounds, only missed one shot and didn’t give away many holes.”
Johnson’s win over Paul Meyer at The Quarry at Giants Ridge last season was his fourth win at the championship and first since defeating Joel B. Johnson at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in 2014.
Johnson trailed by three to Tony Krogen early Monday but chipped away late on his front nine to make the turn down by one. Johnson managed a 2-up lead by carding seven consecutive pars during his back nine and would close out the match with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
A pair of birdies during his front nine helped Johnson to a 2-up lead over Brett Benson during Monday’s afternoon session before Johnson rolled in three birdies through five holes on the back to quickly finish the match at the 14th for his second win of the day, 5 and 4.
Johnson first defeated Tony Brown at Chaska Town Course in 2009 before back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014. He will face Casey Nelson when the final round of pool play gets underway early Tuesday.
A runner-up finish to Cecil Belisle at the MGA Players’ Championship in 2020 and an appearance in the semifinals at last year’s MGA Mid-Players’ Championship has former University of Wisconsin golfer Ryan Conn knocking on the door of his first state win since 2019.
“It’d be nice to get one,” Conn said after his second win Monday. “I probably have a better chance in the mid-ams than against the young kids. It’s hard to beat 64 guys. The pod is the first goal and if you can advance from the pod, it’s almost a good week no matter what. From there you take the matches as they come.”
Following a two-hour weather delay early Monday, Conn’s opening match was conceded by David Erickson, but would then take a 4-up lead over Josh Johnson through seven holes during the afternoon match and never look back, moving within one win of the quarterfinal round.
“I got off to a steady start with a bunch of pars. Won a few holes with some good par saves,” Conn said. “I’ve been hitting it pretty straight, but the wind today was completely opposite of the practice round last week. A little different course than I played last week.”
Conn will face fellow Badger Tyler Obermueller during Tuesday’s final round of match play after Obermueller defeated Josh Johnson, 5 and 4, before his default win over Erickson, who previously withdrew.
“Tyler and I have played together a million times. It’ll be a different round but he’s a great friend. He makes a lot of birdies, plays aggressive and hits it far. I can’t make any stupid mistakes and hopefully slide a couple birdies in here and there."
In search of his first win of the 2022 season, two-time champion Trent Peterson made quick work of Jason Thesing to open the tournament Monday, 6 and 4, and cruised during his second match, 7 and 5, over Erik Bredesen.
Peterson will now face Daryl Schomer during the third round of pool play early Tuesday.
Coming off a win at the 2022 Minnesota Public Golf Association Four-Ball Championship with partner Jordan Hawkinson, Joe Conzemius put himself in position to advance from his pool by defeating Robert Dew, 5 and 4, before getting past Austin Eaton during Monday’s afternoon round, 4 and 3.
Nick Jarrett, who combined with partner Matt Norgaard to win both the MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship and MPGA Combination Championship last season, picked up a pair of wins Monday and will face Andrew Layton in the final match of pool play. Layton also went 2-0 on the opening day of play, defeating Jason Hasselman and Nelson Fox.
In another battle of unbeatens, Jesse Larson will take on Noah Lawson for a spot in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.
The 16th MGA Mid-Players’ Championship resumes Tuesday when the final round of pool play gets underway at 8:30 a.m. at Royal Golf Club.