Tom Carlson shot a final round 71 to win the SDGA Men’s State Stroke Play Championship by two shots over Ryan Jansa on Sunday.  Carlson finished at 9-under for the 3 day tourney after shooting rounds of 66-70-71, earning him his first State Stroke Play title.

Jansa, the 7-time State Stroke Play champion who started the day at even par, fired an amazing final round 65 on Sunday to post -7 for the tourney.  Jansa shot 5-under 31 on his first nine, and birdied the 18th hole to finish at -7 just as Carlson was walking up to the 15th green while at 8-under.  Carlson 3 putted the 15th hole for bogey to momentarily fall back into a tie for the lead at -7.  While walking to the 16th tee, Carlson got word that Jansa had posted -7, meaning he then knew that he would need to play the final 3 holes in 1-under to win.  He didn’t play them in 1-under, he did one better.

After a drive just into the left rough on the par 4 16th hole, Carlson stuffed his approach shot to 8 feet above the hole.  The putt broke a good 6 inches and was very slippery, meaning that any miss likely would’ve left a tester for par coming back up the hill.  Carlson drained the birdie and then promptly went to the 193 yard par 3 17th where he nearly made a hole-in-one, as his shot burned the left edge of the cup and stopped an incredible 12 inches past.  The tap in birdie brought him to 9-under, and after a 2 putt par at the par 5 18th hole, victory was his.  It was truly an amazing finish under that type of pressure, especially when vying for his first State Stroke Play title.

Overall Brookings Country Club was an outstanding venue for the event.  The course is an exceptional combination of being penal to off-line shots, coupled with providing great scoring opportunities.  Measuring just 6,766 from the tips allows for aggressive play to be rewarded with flip wedges into many par 4s and reachable par 5s, but offline tee shots and short sided misses around the greens make for very challenging par saves.  I can definitely personally attest to the latter after constantly finding ways to frustrate myself throughout each round while playing in the tourney this week.

The weather was absolutely amazing all 3 days for the tourney.  After having 5 consecutive State Men’s tourneys (dating back to the ’09 State Stroke Play at Willow Run) marred by weather issues in one fashion or another, it was a giant relief to not only get all 3 rounds in without interruption, but to have ideal conditions of comfortable temps in the low 80s with minimal winds all 3 days.

All in all it was a glorious week up at the BCC.  Two things are definitely for sure- the course provided some week-long excitement, and a more than worthy champion was identified at week’s end.  I believe I speak for all in the field this week that I hope that more tourneys will be held at Brookings Country Club in the very near future.

Joel Harrington