(Photos by Michael Fischer)
The Jackson, Minn. native and former collegiate player at Iowa Lakes and Alabama State carded a 17-under-par 271 to claim the title and never trailed during the 91st installment of the annual golf tournament in Spencer.
Benson got off to a blazing start during his first two rounds of qualifying on Thursday and Friday, shooting a pair of 65s that included 14 birdies and no bogeys to move to 14-under for the lead. During the 36 holes on Sunday's championship round, Benson never relinquished the lead, holding off former champ Josh Manske and University of Minnesota golfer David Haley Jr. for the title. Both Manske and Haley Jr. shot 15-under.
Benson was playing with such accuracy the tournament record of 19-under, set just last year, was in jeopardy on the final nine holes. After his third consecutive birdie on No. 11, Benson was sitting at 21-under with seven holes to play. A bogey and double bogey to end the round allowed the record to elude him, but his lead was never in jeopardy.
"I knew what the record was, and when I got to 21 I knew I had a shot if I kept giving myself chances. ... It wasn't meant to be, but it was enough," Benson said.
It might not be a record, but for Benson, who just finished his collegiate career at Alabama State and is currently working on his Master's degree in accounting there, it's an honor to win among the competition the Northwest Amateur brings each year.
"I've won a few college tournaments but I'd say this is the most prestigious tournament I've won," Benson said. "It's a lot of fun to play well and to compete against these guys."
In addition to Haley Jr. and Manske, Erik Van Rooyen, also on the Minnesota golf team with seventh-place finisher Robert Bell, shot 11-under and threatened throughout the tournament.
"It's fun when we're both playing well," Scott said. "He didn't play as well as he wanted to today (Sunday) but it was a real comfortable round out there since we've played so many together."
In all, 351 golfers teed off this year, with 20 shooting scores of even par or better.
|1||Scott Benson, Jackson, Minn.||65-65-69-72||271||-17|
|2||David Haley Jr., Hilliard, Ohio||68-66-71-68||273||-15|
|2||Joshua Manske, Algona||67-66-70-70||273||-15|
|4||Erik Van Rooyen, Oudtshoorn, South Africa||65-68-73-71||277||-11|
|5||Brett Benson, Jackson, Minn.||68-66-72-72||278||-10|
|5||Cory Braunschweig, Urbandale||70-66-71-71||278||-10|
|7||Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn.||65-71-73-70||279||-9|
|8||Andy Soper, Estherville||67-73-67-73||280||-8|
|9||Jay Monahan, Spirit Lake||68-71-70-72||281||-7|
|10||Kirby Pettitt, Carroll||68-71-73-70||282||-6|
|10||Brandon Thompson, Isle of Wight, England||69-69-74-70||282||-6|
|10||Michael Wuertz, Davenport||70-66-75-71||282||-6|
|13||Ryan Kiewiet, Grundy Center||72-71-69-71||283||-5|
|14||Joseph Bethel, Ankeny||69-72-68-75||284||-4|
|15||Terry Cook, Johnston||69-72-76-68||285||-3|
|16||Jon Burns, Brandon, S.D.||71-71-71-74||287||-1|
|16||Neil Malenke, Orange City||69-73-74-71||287||-1|
|16||Zach Steffen, Des Moines||68-74-72-73||287||-1|
|19||Tracy Mann, Omaha, Neb.||72-71-69-76||288||Even|
|19||Ryan Starkman, Evanston, Ill.||67-77-74-70||288||Even|
|21||Nick Fear, Milford||69-74-78-68||289||+1|
|21||Bill Manske, Algona||71-70-75-73||289||+1|
|23||Matt Mikkelsen, Panora||69-72-76-73||290||+2|
|24||Matthew Conlon, Spencer||69-72-75-75||291||+3|
|25||Chris Kramer, West Des Moines||70-68-76-77||291||+3|
|26||Ryan Kinseth, Fort Dodge||66-72-75-79||292||+4|
|27||Kyle Stanek, Bellevue, Neb.||73-71-72-77||293||+5|
|28||Jay Kautt, St. Paul, Minn.||70-74-77-73||294||+6|
|29||Bob Brummel, Orange City||75-69-76-75||295||+7|
|29||Tom Gustafson, St. Michael, Minn.||73-71-75-76||295||+7|
|29||Todd Sapp, Sioux City||71-72-74-78||295||+7|
|29||Nate Schill, Gowrie||72-72-78-73||295||+7|
|29||Matt Weeks, Spirit Lake||67-75-78-75||295||+7|
|34||Gary Ellis, Norwalk||70-73-72-81||296||+8|
|35||Aaron Aberson, Orange City||74-70-76-77||297||+9|
|35||Blake Bengard, Alton||71-68-83-75||297||+9|
|35||Tony Ralph, Sunnyvale, Calf.||71-73-73-80||297||+9|
|38||Ed Witkowski, LaGrange Park, Ill.||71-71-80-86||298||+10|
|39||Chad Pitts, Ames||71-73-80-76||300||+12|