Reeder, Roberts, Sampson clutch on Sunday
Ryan Reeder put an exclamation point on his second Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota Webster County men’s open division title in three years, draining a 25-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole at Lakeside to seal a three-stroke victory over defending champion Austin Morrow.
Reeder emerged from a throng of distant contenders with a seven-under par 65, then stayed hot during the championship round on Lakeside’s back nine as dusk crept in Sunday evening. The eagle was a fitting finishing touch on a day that saw the 1994 St. Edmond graduate go from four-over par at the start to six-under overall when all was said and done in the 40th annual event, presented by The Messenger.
Kevin Roberts was just as impressive on the senior side, firing a nine-under 63 to create some separation from co-leader Kevin Conrad of Fort Dodge. Roberts held off Conrad by four shots for his first-ever crown.
Reeder began his climb with birdies at the two par-5s on the front side and another birdie at 8. The 2018 winner then “found a groove” on the back, carding a four-under 32 with birdies at 10, 11, 15 and 18.
“I hit the ball really well, rolled in some putts and stayed out of trouble,” said Reeder, who had never recorded a round lower than 66 at Lakeside before Sunday. “I got into a rhythm. After a 75 (on Saturday at the Fort Dodge Country Club), I knew I had a lot of ground to make up so I felt a sense of urgency being six (strokes) back (of day-one leader Eddie Doyle).
“I’ve been through this before, on both sides of the spectrum. It’s not easy. There are always a lot of really good players (in the field). And when you know you’re in contention, you start breathing a little harder and feeling the pressure more (in the championship round). The key is to stick to your routine and not change the way you do things. Go with what got you to that point.”
An errant tee shot and bogey at 17 by Reeder left the door open momentarily for Morrow — a former Fort Dodge Senior High standout and the defending Lakeside Amateur champ — and Doyle, an ex-Gael all-stater. Reeder’s long eagle on the last hole slammed it, though, as he answered his only bad hole of the 27-hole day with his best one yet.
“Tony (Lawler) read (the line) for me,” Reeder said. “I might have missed the spot he pointed out by a little, but I hit it hard enough that it just banged in.
“The great thing about this tournament is the comfort and familiarity. We’ve had the same foursome for close to 25 years. The Messenger and Fort Dodge Ford have been great sponsors, and we always have a lot of fun. It’s something we look forward to every summer. Being with ‘Spark’ (Randy Stults) and the others…we play more golf together (throughout the course of the year) than you can even imagine. It just wasn’t happening for me (on Saturday). But it all turned around for me and the putts were falling (yesterday). That’s the way this game goes.”
Morrow (three-under 176), Doyle (one-under 178) and Cody Jaeschke (even-par 179) followed Reeder, who was tied with Morrow and one up on Doyle before securing the win with a three-under 33 in the championship round. Phil Ruth (five-over 184) and Ben Dooley (six-over 185) were fifth and sixth, with Kole Petersen (10-over 189) placing seventh.
Roberts, the owner of Dent Masters who is set up for the rest of the summer in Fort Dodge at Al’s Auto Repair after a July hailstorm hit the area, had a bogey-free round on Sunday that included nine birdies heading into the championship round. Conrad closed the gap by two shots down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough as Roberts broke the tourney’s senior scoring record at eight-under par 171 — the best 45-hole number of the entire weekend.
“I just felt like I didn’t miss any putts,” said Roberts, who is originally from Ozark, Mo. “I was fortunate enough to catch fire at the right time, especially given the way Kevin (Conrad) played. It was just enough, because (the championship nine) was a struggle.
“This is just a great tournament Fort Dodge Ford and The Messenger put on, and I love these golf courses. It’s a terrific event. It’s been a while, but I play in it whenever we’re back up here in the area.”
Conrad went 71-69-35 for a 175, which would have tied the old senior record itself. Two-time defending champ Randy Stults was third at even-par 179 (73-69-37), with Coi Nguyen (77-69-34–180) placing fourth at one-over par.
Greg Sampson of Fort Dodge took the inaugural super senior division gold, carding rounds of 75 and 70 to close five shots clear of John Thalacker. Six-time senior titleist Terry Miller was third.
Saturday’s closest-to-the-pin winners, sponsored by Faiferlick Martial Arts and Next Edge Performance, were John Thalacker (No. 2), Kevin Conrad (No. 8), Kevin Ressler (No. 11), and Bret Charon (No. 13). All four received $100 and a free day pass to Next Edge, valued at $75.
MEN’S OPEN DIVISION
1. Ryan Reeder 75-65-33–173
2. Austin Morrow 71-69-36–176
3. Eddie Doyle 69-72-37–178
4. Cody Jaeschke 74-70-35–179
5. Phil Ruth 74-76-34–184
6. Ben Dooley 77-71-37–185
7. Kole Petersen 77-75-37–189
8. Cory Cummins 74-77-39–190
9. Justin Jorgensen 77-76-39–192
10. Drew Schaeffer 77-79-37–193
MEN’S SENIOR DIVISION
1. Kevin Roberts 71-63-37–171
2. Kevin Conrad 71-69-35–175
3. Randy Stults 73-69-37–179
4. Coi Nguyen 77-69-34–180
5. Lance Utley 79-73-31–183
MEN’S SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
1. Greg Sampson 75-70–144
2. John Thalacker 76-74–150
3. Terry Miller 78-74–152
4. Tom Forbes 80-74–154