FINISHING TOUCH

In what could be his final FD Am appearance, Huseman wins first title

Messenger photo by Eric Pratt 2019 Fort Dodge Amateur champions (left to right): Joe Bates (senior), Jim Campbell (super senior) and Andrew Huseman (open).

There have been bigger tournaments, and there are loftier goals ahead.

Regardless of where Andrew Huseman’s golf journey landed in the past or will take him in the future, he’ll always cherish the 2019 Fort Dodge Amateur championship as one of his greatest achievements — both for the physical patience and emotional investment it took to clear such a sentimental hurdle.

In what could very well be his final FD Am appearance, the 24-year-old Huseman left nothing to chance and grinded his way to a resounding five-stroke victory in the open division at the Fort Dodge Country Club’s 71st annual tourney.

Albia’s Joe Bates and Jim Campbell went wire-to-wire in the senior and super senior divisions, respectively, to secure titles as well. Bates posted a three-stroke victory over Bret Taylor; Campbell edged Joel Yunek in a playoff.

Motivated to fulfill a promise he made to himself — and his grandpa Dutch — years ago, Huseman closed with a steady two-under par 69 on Sunday. The home stretch of the final round is often tense and unrewarding, as Huseman himself can attest, but the Ankeny Centennial graduate posted plenty of birdies and avoided enough mistakes over the first two-and-a-half days to turn the back nine into a virtual victory lap.

“I felt very confident that I could finish the job, mostly because of what I was able to do over the first 45 holes,” said Huseman, who chose to ride in a cart with his father, Bill — a local chiropractor — during the championship 18. “When you’re able to build a (comfortable) lead, you can just work through those last few holes with a lot of pars and not have to take any big chances.

“There were a few times I got ahead of myself, and I had to remind myself this thing isn’t over yet. So I focused on resetting and staying in the moment as much as I could, even knowing in the back of my mind how much this one meant.”

Huseman grew up in Ankeny, but spent plenty of weekends and summer nights at the FDCC with Grandpa Dutch and Grandma Joyce. He’s long considered the course his home away from home, and his connection with Dutch — a Hall of Fame athletic director and coach at Fort Dodge Senior High — was a prevailing theme during his amateur playing days in the area.

When Dutch Huseman died in April of 2016, Andrew’s focus shifted even more to the amateur events in Fort Dodge. The former Indian Hills and Arkansas State University standout won the Lakeside Am four times and and placed in the Top-3 of the FD Am on three occasions, but this particular trophy had eluded his grasp.

Last year’s tourney heightened the frustration. Huseman was in complete command and turned in an overall score that was more than enough to finally break through, but an inadvertent rule violation led to a self-disqualification early in Huseman’s final round.

“I know he’d be proud of me for (this championship),” said Huseman, who is moving to Florida this fall and has his sights set on turning pro sometime next summer. “But I know he would’ve been just as proud of me after what happened last year — if not more so. I wanted to handle that situation the right way: with honesty and integrity. Because that always meant more to Grandpa than winning.”

Huseman birdied holes 2, 9 and 10 Sunday, and playing partners Willis Gaer and Joe Urbanek simply couldn’t keep up. Huseman’s lone hiccup came at the par-5 15th — his second shot bounced off the cart path and careened out of bounds — but he responded with pars at 16 and 17.

The treacherous 18th hole was all that stood between Huseman and his title. After hitting an iron off the tee and into the fairway, he just missed the green long and left with his approach shot. Huseman knocked a perfect chip to two feet, then tapped in his par for the concluding moment.

“I took a second to think about Grandpa after that (chip shot),” Huseman said. “It was the first time I really allowed myself to let it sink in.”

The celebration was unassuming, which fit Huseman’s personality well. He later posted a picture from his grandparents’ gravesite on social media, with a caption that read, “I finally did it Grandpa!!! This one was for you! I love and miss you so much!”

Logan Schweinefus of Ossian carded a 68 on Sunday to place second at three-under 210. Gaer, of Des Moines, was third at 211, followed by Jon Olson of Ankeny (212) and Urbanek of Hudson (213).

Huseman’s eight-under 205 was the best FD Am score since FDSH graduate Colin Pearson’s 199 in 2013, and the fourth-lowest total posted in the last 20 years.

Bates returned to the scene of his 2016 FD Am senior championship and repeated the feat after a two-year hiatus. His even-par 213 topped Taylor (216), Dave Gaer (218) and Terry Cook (218).

“It was great to get back up here,” Bates said. “I’d missed the last two because of prior commitments. I just love these old-school courses. (The FDCC) fits my eye well, and we have a group of guys from Albia who have a great time.

“You have to putt well here to score, and fortunately, I did that (all weekend). I only had one three-putt in 54 holes. This course is always in superb condition, and the greens are amazing. The superintendent (Mark Siems) deserves a lot of credit.”

Bates took the Southeast Iowa Amateur crown earlier this year at Lake Rathbun, and was third at the Carroll Am earlier this month.

Campbell had to go the extra mile to hold off a hard-charging Yunek, who lives in Mason City but is originally from Lake City. Yunek’s 73 on Sunday pulled him into a first-place tie after regulation with Campbell, who then prevailed in a sudden-death playoff.

Brian Fell of Ames, Fort Dodge’s Dave Sergeant — the defending super senior titleist — and John Kinsey of Alleman rounded out the Top-5.

OPEN DIVISION

1. Andrew Huseman 205

2. Logan Schweinefus 210

3. Willis Gaer 211

4. Jon Olson 212

5. Joe Urbanek 213

6. Erik Bredesen 214

7. Ryan Horner 218

8. Jake Marvelli 219

9. Austin Reynolds 220

10. Eddie Doyle 221

(tie) Justin Schulte 221

12. Ethan Mechling 222

(tie) Avery Fuhs 222

(tie) Cody Jaeschke 222

15. Kevin Ault 225

16. Carson Caylor 227

17. Ryan Kinseth 228

18. Austin Morrow 230

19. Preston Peterson 231

SENIOR DIVISION

1. Joe Bates 213

2. Bret Taylor 216

3. Dave Gaer 218

(tie) Terry Cook 218

5. Dave Henry 222

6. Ron Peterson 224

(tie) Tom Schill 224

8. Frank Chiodo 225

9. Tony Malizia 226

10. Rob Dickerman 227

SUPER SENIOR DIVISION

1. Jim Campbell 224

2. Joel Yunek 224

3. Brian Fell 228

4. Dave Sergeant 229

5. John Kinsey 238

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