Northwest Am: Benson takes title at 17-under

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Scott Benson of Jackson, Minn. hits out of the bunker on No. 12 during the championship round at the Northwest Amateur on Sunday, August 5 at Spencer Golf and Country Club. Benson saved par on the hole on his way to a 17-under-par finish to claim the 2012 Northwest Amateur title. (Photos by Michael Fischer)

One named stayed atop the leaderboard throughout the four rounds of play at this year's Northwest Amateur at Spencer Golf and Country Club: Scott Benson.

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.

Josh Manske, the 2009 Northwest Am, watches his drive on Sunday, August 5 during the Northwest Amateur in Spencer, Iowa. Manske would fire a 15-under-par 273, which earned him a tie for second place with David Haley Jr. of Hillard, Ohio.

"I played well all week," Benson said. "The first two rounds I was playing with my best friend, who ended up caddying for me (Sunday), and I only missed one green. I just hit the ball really well all weekend."

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.

University of Minnesota golfer David Haley Jr. of Hillard, Ohio follows his shot off the tee on Sunday, August 5 at the Northwest Amateur at Spencer Golf and Country Club. Hillard would finish in a tie for second place with a 15-under 273.

Benson also had the opportunity to play with his older brother, Brett, on the final round. Brett shot even par on the final 18 and finished in a tie for fifth at 10-under.

"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.

2012 Northwest Amateur Golf Tournament

Final Leaderboard - Championship Flight

Spencer Golf and Country Club - August 2-5

PlacePlayerRoundsScoreTo Par
1Scott Benson, Jackson, Minn.65-65-69-72271-17
2David Haley Jr., Hilliard, Ohio68-66-71-68273-15
2Joshua Manske, Algona67-66-70-70273-15
4Erik Van Rooyen, Oudtshoorn, South Africa65-68-73-71277-11
5Brett Benson, Jackson, Minn.68-66-72-72278-10
5Cory Braunschweig, Urbandale70-66-71-71278-10
7Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn.65-71-73-70279-9
8Andy Soper, Estherville67-73-67-73280-8
9Jay Monahan, Spirit Lake68-71-70-72281-7
10Kirby Pettitt, Carroll68-71-73-70282-6
10Brandon Thompson, Isle of Wight, England69-69-74-70282-6
10Michael Wuertz, Davenport70-66-75-71282-6
13Ryan Kiewiet, Grundy Center72-71-69-71283-5
14Joseph Bethel, Ankeny69-72-68-75284-4
15Terry Cook, Johnston69-72-76-68285-3
16Jon Burns, Brandon, S.D.71-71-71-74287-1
16Neil Malenke, Orange City69-73-74-71287-1
16Zach Steffen, Des Moines68-74-72-73287-1
19Tracy Mann, Omaha, Neb.72-71-69-76288Even
19Ryan Starkman, Evanston, Ill.67-77-74-70288Even
21Nick Fear, Milford69-74-78-68289+1
21Bill Manske, Algona71-70-75-73289+1
23Matt Mikkelsen, Panora69-72-76-73290+2
24Matthew Conlon, Spencer69-72-75-75291+3
25Chris Kramer, West Des Moines70-68-76-77291+3
26Ryan Kinseth, Fort Dodge66-72-75-79292+4
27Kyle Stanek, Bellevue, Neb.73-71-72-77293+5
28Jay Kautt, St. Paul, Minn.70-74-77-73294+6
29Bob Brummel, Orange City75-69-76-75295+7
29 Tom Gustafson, St. Michael, Minn.73-71-75-76295+7
29Todd Sapp, Sioux City71-72-74-78295+7
29Nate Schill, Gowrie72-72-78-73295+7
29Matt Weeks, Spirit Lake67-75-78-75295+7
34Gary Ellis, Norwalk70-73-72-81296+8
35Aaron Aberson, Orange City74-70-76-77297+9
35Blake Bengard, Alton71-68-83-75297+9
35Tony Ralph, Sunnyvale, Calf.71-73-73-80297+9
38Ed Witkowski, LaGrange Park, Ill.71-71-80-86298+10
39Chad Pitts, Ames71-73-80-76300+12
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