Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Congratulations Missouri Amateur Champion - Justin Bardgett

One year ago at Old Warson Country Club, a young Justin Bardgett found himself in the finals of the Metropolitan Amateur Match Play Championship against Player of the Year, Skip Berkmeyer. On this day, Bardgett looked to defeat the number one seeded Berkmeyer holding a 2up lead with 2 holes to play. But the veteran Berkmeyer found a way to square the match as he has a knack to do, ultimately winning in extra holes and sweeping away the championship from Bardgett.

Turn the clock forward a year and a more experienced Bardgett again was on the cuff of winning a major amateur championship, this time the 101st Missouri Amateur Championship. And again, in his way was none other than Skip Berkmeyer. Both graduates of Chaminade High School, Bardgett has played in the shadow of Skip Berkmeyer for most of his young adult life. A Missouri High School Champion, Bardgett has captured his share of major golf tournaments, but never a Men's major championship like he again had the opportunity to win on Sunday at WingHaven Country Club.

Throughout the week, Skip Berkmeyer had played what he called some of the best golf he's played competitively in his career. He had control over his golf ball, a great feel on the greens and an edge over many of the younger inexperienced competitors in the field. Breezing through his first five matches, you could sense Berkmeyer intimidated his opponents if not because of his reputation alone. But Bardgett had seen it before. He fully understood what Berkmeyer was capable of and also knew that he was one good shot away from defeating him a year ago. Watching the players warm up on Sunday morning, you could sense Bardgett wasn't going to spot Berkmeyer 2up on reputation alone.

As the players began their marathon 36 hole final match ominous clouds hovered over the Nicklaus Design Championship Golf Course and mother nature was evident with gusts of 10 to 15 mph. For most of the week the weather had been perfect with little wind to challenge the golfers.

If anyone had their doubts as to whether the younger and less experienced Bardgett would handle center stage, it took all of 15 minutes to answer that question. After an atypical wayward drive from Berkmeyer off the first tee, Bardgett neatly placed his tee shot on the left side of the fairway. It was Bardgett's second shot that served notice that he was ready for this challenge, as he stuck his approach to 4 feet of the hole. He would go on to make birdie and assume a 1up lead. After both players made birdie on the par 5, 2nd and pars on the 3rd, the players were called off the golf course for 45 minutes due to inclement weather with Bardgett maintaining the 1up lead...Read More

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Fight to Finish at Cotton

Berkmeyer edges Hovis by a stroke to win tourney.

By STEVE WALENTIK of the Tribune’s staff
Monday, June 9, 2008

Scott Hovis had played enough golf with Skip Berkmeyer to know all the traits that have made him arguably the top amateur golfer in the state of Missouri.

Anyone who watched Berkmeyer lock down his third Phil Cotton Invitational championship yesterday on the 18th hole at A.L. Gustin Golf Course knows now, too.

Berkmeyer was 5-under-par when he stepped onto the 18th tee clinging to a one-shot lead over Hovis, who rode along in the same cart as the St. Louisan in yesterday’s final group.

Against a lot of people, I’d probably hit iron off the tee and play it safe and make the guy make birdie," Berkmeyer said. "But Scott, I know his game, I figured he’d make birdie. I figured I needed to make birdie to win."
So Berkmeyer pulled out his driver and ripped his tee shot down the right side - right into trouble. The ball came to rest in the rough with two trees blocking his approach to the green. With Hovis sitting just about 70 yards out in the middle of the fairway, the prospect of the tournament being decided in a playoff for the third straight year looked more and more likely.

But Berkmeyer pitched the ball over the trees and landed it just about 3 feet off the green. When he chipped to within a foot, Hovis’ 8-foot birdie attempt suddenly became a must-make.
Hovis nearly did, sending his putt skirting barely an inch off the left edge.

"I thought I made it," he said. "I hit a good stroke, hit it right on my line. I putted it a little bit outside left edge. It was breaking, and then it straightened out."

Hovis threw his head back and let out a sigh that revealed his frustration and surprise.

But he wasn’t shocked at all to see Berkmeyer escape trouble with the tournament on the line.

"He knows exactly where he’s going to put it," Hovis said. "He knows his misses. He knows every shot. He’s very methodical, very smart. He knows where he’s going to hit it. He’s battle-tested, when you play the events that he does and at the high level. He’s got a very good mental game."

That served Berkmeyer well as he navigated through a stiff wind throughout yesterday’s final round. He played bogey-free on the back nine to card the day’s best round, a 3-under-par 67 that left him at 5-under for the 36-hole tournament. That was one shot better than Hovis and three in front of Chesterfield’s Darren Lundgren, the only other player in the 46-man championship division to finish below par.

The 34-year-old Berkmeyer, who won the Missouri Amateur in 1999 and the Phil Cotton Invitational in 2001 and 2002, began the day two shots behind first-round leader Nick Wilson and one back of Hovis. He’d lost ground to the latter after making bogey on the par-3 fifth.
At that point, the only man making a significant move was Lundgren, who birdied the first three holes to climb into the lead. He finished the front nine at 4-under-par 31.

It took Berkmeyer eight holes to collect his first birdie. He rolled in an 8-footer to get back to even-par for the round.

"I was just trying to be patient," Berkmeyer said. "With the wind, it’s uncomfortable. I knew I was just a couple good holes away."

He drove it into the bunker just right of the green on No. 9 and got up-and-down for another birdie to tie Hovis.

Lundgren and Wilson each faltered early on the back nine. Lundgren made bogeys on 10 and 11 and a double-bogey on 12 after losing a ball off the tee. Wilson, a recent Hickman graduate, made the turn at 2-over-par then bogeyed 11 and triple-bogeyed the par-5 12th after flying his third shot into the tall grass behind the green.

From then on, the competition for the title turned into a duel between the two cart partners. Berkmeyer had gained the upper hand after Hovis bogeyed the par-3 10th, but Hovis climbed back into a tie with a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 14. They remained that way until 16.

That’s about the time their friendly round of golf got serious.

"We both knew the last three holes, neither of us was going to back down," Hovis said. "One of us was going to have to make a birdie to win."

They hit their tee shots little more than 10 feet apart - and 30 yards from the green - on 16. Hovis flubbed his second, dooming him to a par. Berkmeyer, meanwhile, pitched his second to about 12 feet above the hole to set up what proved to be the decisive birdie putt.

"I’ve had that putt before," he said. "I knew it broke right. I was just trying to get the right speed, and lo and behold, it went in."

Hovis, the executive director of the Missouri Golf Association, still had two chances to pull even, but he couldn’t conjure a birdie on 17 or 18. He settled for second place for the second straight year.

The competition for the senior title wasn’t nearly as close. Chesterfield’s Don Bliss pulled away from the field with a 6-under 64 on Saturday, and he followed it up with a round of 73 to beat runner-up Karl Elbrecht by eight shots. It was Bliss’ second consecutive senior title. He also won the championship division in 1999.

Congrats Skip and Don!!

Until I see you on the first tee,


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Under Way

The 2008 Missouri Amateur Qualifying rounds are under way. So far we have four completed and two still to finish. The results from these qualifiers are on the MGA web site. The Missouri Am is the week of June 16th at Winghaven Country Club in O’Fallon. I am looking forward to a great week and some good golf. You can follow all the action on the MGA web site.

Until I see you on the first tee.