Championship Sunday at the 65th annual Fort Dodge amateur men’s golf tournament featured little drama.
After inclement weather conditions delayed the start of action for over an hour, Colin Pearson and Joel Yunek eventually emerged as winners in their respective divisions from a field of 130 total participants at the Fort Dodge Country Club. Pearson secured the open title by tying Jason Knutzon (1998) and Chad McCarty (2006) for the tournament record with a 14-under par 199. Yunek took home gold for a second straight year and fourth-time ever in the senior class, firing a 212.
Both Pearson and Yunek began the final round atop the leaderboard in the second oldest major in Iowa. Pearson, a 2012 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, actually went wire-to-wire.
“I just wanted to stay focused and take care of business,” said Pearson, who followed up his new FD Am low round of a nine-under par 62 Saturday with a 70 on Sunday. “It feels really special to win in tough conditions at one of the big amateurs in the state. This gives me a lot of confidence now that I can compete with some of the best players around.”
Pearson, a two-time defending city champ who is a member of the Indian Hills golf team, posted birdies on 6, 7 and 10 Sunday, with bogeys on 3 and 17. He finished play this weekend with 31 pars, 15 birdies, six bogeys, one eagle and one double-eagle. Pearson tied for fourth with three others at last summer’s Fort Dodge Am.
“With the way the course was set up for Sunday, I knew if I shot anywhere under par I’d probably be ok,” Pearson said. “I didn’t think (a FD Am victory) was easy at all, though. All it takes is a couple of holes for someone else to get right back in (front).”
Yunek, a 1972 graduate of Lake City High School, closed with an even one-under par 70 of his own – the top senior tally of the day. Yunek, who is now a lawyer in Mason City, birdied 7, 13 and 15, with bogeys on 8 and 18.
“I had a heck of a time striking the ball, but I made a lot of putts and my chipping was tremendous,” said Yunek, whose other FD Am senior triumphs came in 2004 and ’05. “Maybe it was what I learned growing up on the course in Lake City that did the trick. I played smart and didn’t try to be a hero. That’s the wisdom of being in the senior division – knowing when to take risks and when to keep your ego in the bag.
“I love this course. It’s my absolute favorite. It’s in wonderful shape right now and it’s a perfect challenge (for the field). I play (at the FDCC) whenever I can. I really enjoy getting down here. I had a fabulous group – Billy (Manske) and Ned (Palmer) are tremendous players. It was an honor to be in the final (threesome) with them. I had a lot of fun.”
Cory Braunschweig, the 1995 and ’96 FD Am title-holder, settled for a runner-up effort behind Pearson, notching a 206. The former Iowa State and Drake golfer, who currently lives in Urbandale, shot birdies on 7 and 11, along with bogeys on 2, 3, 5 and 14 to end with a 73.
Carroll’s Tanner Ludwig, a member of the Des Moines Area golf program, placed third (214). Tanner Kesterson, a 2012 FD Am champion who recently completed his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, was fourth (215). Kesterson, who is originally from Plano, Tex., has extended family in the area and a summer home at the FDCC.
“I had a great time playing with Tanner (Kesterson) and Cory (yesterday),” Pearson said. “They were truly one of the best groups I’ve ever played with.”
Levi Fink, a 2012 Class 1A state runner-up for Valley Community, managed the best round of the day in the open division at 68. The North Iowa Area player checked in fifth (217).
West Des Moines’ Joe Palmer (216), Algona’s Manske (220), Sioux City’s Todd Sapp (222) and Boone’s Jim Curell (224) were the other top performers on the senior side.