Kevin Schnepf, Published August 31 2009
Bobcat North Dakota Open: Stolpe remains calm, holds off field for win
While it was reported that someone had overtaken his lead on the final day of the Bobcat North Dakota State Open golf tournament, the 28-year-old Stolpe remained as calm as Sunday’s perfect 70-degree weather to claim his first professional win.
After carding a round of 64 Saturday, Stolpe finished the tournament the same way he started it on Friday with a two-under par 70 to win the tournament by one stroke over Jordan Weber.
“I had no clue what was going on,” Stolpe said of the other scores. “I just had to concentrate on doing my thing.”
Stolpe, a Muskego, Wis., native who now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., entered the final day at 10-under par with a one-stroke lead. After 14 holes Sunday, he was 13-under with a five-shot lead over Don Berry – who was part of the tournament’s final threesome.
But three groups ahead, rumors started circulating that Weber was the leader at 14-under. That was about the time Stolpe bogeyed his only hole of the day on the par-3 15th. But the reports were erroneous.
Weber, a 23-year-old from Carson, Iowa, only got as low as 12-under par. He ended the tournament 11-under par while Stolpe had two holes to go.
Stolpe came close to taking a two-shot lead on the par 5 17th. But he three-putted for a par to remain at 12-under.
“I thought missing that putt on 17 would hurt me,” said Stolpe, who only had to par the par-4 18th to claim his first tournament title.
But it didn’t come easy. Hitting a sand wedge out of some thick rough on his second shot 120 yards from the green, Stolpe’s shot ricocheted off a tree.
“It could have been worse,” Stolpe said of his shot that landed to the right of the green.
While lining up his crucial chip shot, Stolpe was visibly distracted when announcements were made of the players’ names and again from the beeping sound of a golf cart in reverse.
“When you are playing in a smaller tournament like this, that happens,” Stolpe said. “I just had to regroup and do it again.”
Stolpe placed his chip shot within three feet of the hole before calmly sinking the winning putt that earned him the first-place prize of $10,000 and an entry in the 2009 PGA Tour School worth $4,500.
Not bad for a golfer in only his second year of the Dakotas Tour – in which he placed second in one event last year and ninth at last year’s North Dakota State Open.
“It feels great,” Stolpe said. “I just tried to play solid and not make any mistakes today. I was really patient today.”
While Stolpe was patient, Weber turned red hot after carding bogeys on two of his first three holes of the day. He ended up birdying the final four holes of the front nine and the first two holes of the back nine.
“If you would have told me I would end up four-under after that start, I would have taken it,” said Weber, who has already won one Dakotas Tour event this year. “It came down to good irons and good putts.”
The only flaw during his comeback was the bogey he carded on the par-four 16th. After driving his tee-shot into the trees, he needed two chips to get to the green – where he missed a seven-foot putt for par.
“I was going to lay up but decided to use my driver,” Weber said of his tee shot. “It came back to bite me.”
Weber earned $6,000 for his second-place finish. Berry, from Brooklyn Park, Minn., finished third to earn $5,000. Fargoan Josh Persons, who started the day two strokes back, finished in a five-way tie for fourth.
Jordan Ensrud won the amateur low-gross title while Tom Hanson won the amateur low-net title.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549. Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com