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FINISHING FORTITUDE

Cook repeats; Peck, Ryan win FD Am titles for the first time

Messenger photo by Eric Pratt: Connor Peck of Ankeny hits a tee shot at No. 16 in the final round of the Fort Dodge Amateur on Sunday at the Fort Dodge Country Club.

Connor Peck didn’t have a specific score in mind.

The standout Ankeny golfer just knew he needed to make up a lot of ground in a short period of time during the final round of the Fort Dodge Amateur on Sunday.

The 2020 Iowa Golf Association player of the year did just that, erasing a six-shot deficit to secure his first FD Am title at the Fort Dodge Country Club with a one-stroke victory in the Open division over Ethan Mechling of Des Moines.

Terry Cook of West Des Moines clinched his second consecutive Senior crown, holding off hard-charging Dave Gaer of Des Moines. Pat Ryan of Marshalltown joined Peck in the newcomer spotlight with a Super Senior victory in a playoff over five-time FD Am king Joel Yunek of Mason City.

Peck trailed good friend and former Ankeny teammate Andrew Huseman — the two-time defending champ — by a sizable margin as the final foursome — which also included Mechling and Willis Gaer — got started yesterday morning. Peck chipped away at the deficit, birdieing holes 2 and 9 and recording an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole to climb within a single shot of Huseman by the turn.

Messenger photo by Eric Pratt: Terry Cook of West Des Moines follows through on an approach shot at the seventh hole on Sunday during the final round of the Fort Dodge Amateur at the Fort Dodge Country Club.

“I knew I couldn’t get it all back at once,” said Peck, who lost in a playoff to Nate McCoy at the Carroll Amateur last week. “Andrew played so well the first two days. I figured I still had a chance, but I had to make some things happen. I didn’t want to (target a total) and figure out if that would be good enough. I just had to make up some shots here and there to get (within striking distance).

“This means a lot to me. The Fort Dodge Amateur is one I’ve definitely wanted to win; I played this course a lot in high school and have always liked it a lot. Andrew is an outstanding golfer and things didn’t go his way (Sunday). It happens to all of us at one time or another. I know how much this tournament and course mean to him. I’m just very fortunate my short game got going and I was able to roll in some putts.”

Peck, Mechling and Huseman were all tied at five-under par for the tournament through 16 holes. Huseman fell off the pace with a bogey at 17, then double-bogeyed 18 to finish third.

Mechling missed the green in regulation at 18, and needed to get up-and-down to force a playoff. Peck — who played collegiately at Indian Hills Community College and Kansas University — lagged a long birdie putt and tapped in for par. Mechling missed his par putt, and Peck stood alone.

Peck (68) was one of only two players to break par on Sunday, despite the early-morning rains that softened up the course. Carson Caylor of Des Moines carded a five-under 66 to move into a fourth-place tie with Gaer.

Peck and Huseman teamed to win the IGA Four-Ball title together last August in Sioux City.

“I love being back in Iowa and competing on the IGA circuit — especially at courses I’m familiar with and played a lot growing up,” said Peck, who turned pro after his Big 12 career at KU but moved back to Iowa a little over a year ago while regaining his amateur status. “There are a ton of terrific players in this state. The (FD Am) has a lot of history and carries a lot of prestige with it, so having my name (on the winner’s list) feels great.”

Cook rode the momentum from his record-breaking round of 63 on Friday across the finish line on the senior side. Gaer made up nine strokes on Sunday with an impressive four-under par 67, but it wasn’t enough to catch the former University of Nebraska wrestler, who had tied the senior tourney scoring record last June in winning here for the first time.

“It’s always tough to win and hold off an entire field filled with talented players,” said the 56-year-old Cook, who closed at one-over 214 for the tourney to Gaer’s 217. “My goal (after Friday) was to keep going, make a ton of birdies, and go so low that I could set a record that would never be broken. That’s just my mentality; keep pressing and competing. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen and I didn’t post the scores I wanted to (on Saturday and Sunday).

“I’m not going to take it for granted, though. This is special. I tend to be very hard on myself and think about what could have been. Instead, I’m just going to enjoy this and be thankful. It’s no secret this is one of my favorite tournaments and courses around. So this gives me something to shoot for when I come back next year. Not many people have gone back-to-back here, and even fewer have won three in a row.”

Ryan and Yunek were neck-and-neck after both turning in nine-over par 222s for the week — a single stroke better than Fort Dodge’s Dave Sergeant. Ryan prevailed in a playoff when Yunek — a native of Lake City — had a three-putt bogey.

“I kind of got it together after a rough start and played the last 12 holes (on Sunday) even (par),” Ryan said. “I was nervous going up against such a good player in Joel (for sudden death), but I just tried taking some deep breaths and focus. It wasn’t easy. I won the senior match play (at the FDCC) many years ago. I’ve been up here a lot and just so appreciate the course and the way it’s taken care of. It’s one of my favorites and I’ll always come back in a heartbeat.

“Joel and Dave have such an amazing track record (in the FD Am). I played with Dave on Friday and Saturday (before the championship round) — he’s nothing short of a legend in this state, and still an incredible player at 76 years old. A Hall of Fame golfer and an even better person.”

OPEN DIVISION

1. Connor Peck, Ankeny 70-70-68–208 (-5)

2. Ethan Mechling, Des Moines 70-69-70–209 (-4)

3. Andrew Huseman, Ankeny 66-68-77–211 (-2)

4. Carson Caylor, Des Moines 73-75-66–214 (+1)

(tie) Willis Gaer, Des Moines 70-73-71–214 (+1)

6. Luke Galeazzi, Knoxville 72-74-72–218 (+5)

SENIOR DIVISION

1. Terry Cook, West Des Moines 63-75-76–214 (+1)

2. Dave Gaer, Des Moines 76-74-67–217 (+4)

3. Tony Newkirk, Pleasant Hill 71-79-74–224 (+11)

4. Tony Malizia, Humboldt 77-78-73–228 (+15)

SUPER SENIOR DIVISION

1. Pat Ryan, Marshalltown 72-75-75–222 (+9)

2. Joel Yunek, Mason City 73-74-75–222 (+9)

3. Dave Sergeant, Fort Dodge 71-77-75–223 (+10)

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