Jones Uses Late Rally to Defeat Norland in Senior Match Play Championship
Dale Jones of Mendakota C.C. defeated Larry Norland of Greenhaven G.C. 1-up to win the 2017 Minnesota PGA Senior Match Play Championship on what was a cold, fall day at Somerset Country Club. Each player will admit that they did not play their best golf, but, nonetheless, the match came down to the wire.
“You know, I felt good going into the round,” said Jones. “Right up until I had a shank on the par-3 4th and par-3 7th.”
Jones gained a quick 1-up lead on the par-4 1st after Norland double-bogeyed, and he was able to convert an easy par.
The best putt of the day came at the par-4 2nd when Norland nailed a 20-footer for birdie to even the match at all square.
Despite hitting errant tee balls on the two par-3s [4th and 7th] on the front side, Jones made two spectacular up-and-downs for par. He would not lose either hole and those conversions provided him with a couple bright spots in a round that only featured one birdie.
“I made a heckuva par on the 7th after that shank,” he emphasized. “I mean that was unbelievable.”
“A lot of guys aren’t looking for yardages on par-3s,” Jones added jokingly.
No one seemed to be able to seize the opportunity and build momentum as Norland would par the par-4 8th to win the hole. The pair halved the 9th to make the turn all square.
Norland made his only other birdie of the day at the par-4 10th to give him his first lead.
On the par-5 13th, Jones had an opportunity to even the score but three-putted for par to halve the hole—his second three-putt on the par-5s.
Norland and Jones would exchange pars down the stretch until Norland’s tee shot on the par-5 16th went out of bounds, costing him the hole and bringing the match back to all square with two holes to play.
“My focus was getting that second shot in the fairway close to the hole,” said Jones. “If I can get it up and down, that should be good enough to win the hole.” It certainly was.
Another bad drive on the 17th by Norland put him in another tricky spot. Unlike what he and Jones were able to do so many times before, he couldn’t convert his par putt on the 17th and dropped his second consecutive hole.
On the final hole, 1-up with both players on the green in two shots. A Norland miss allowed Jones to calmly two-putt to win his first Senior Minnesota PGA title of his career.
“How does it feel?” he was asked. “Spectacular.”
Norland recognized he could have played better down the stretch but didn’t discredit his opponent, “I played okay. It looked like neither one of us wanted to take control. I don’t think either one of us got more than 1-up the entire way; but if you make one or two mistakes against a guy as good as Dale, he will take advantage every time.”