For Phil Ruth, it was mission accomplished here Sunday.
In his first career city golf tournament victory, Ruth carded a final score of 180 in the men’s open division at the Country Club, ending 2012 FDSH graduate Colin Pearson’s reign of two straight titles. Pearson and four-time city runner-up Tanner Kesterson were each unable to compete in this summer’s tournament due to scheduling conflicts.
Other winners in the 33rd annual Messenger event, sponsored by Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, were Terry Miller (men’s senior), Kelsey Faiferlick (women’s open) and Peg Christensen (women’s senior). Miller earned his second consecutive crown, while Faiferlick prevailed for a third year in a row.
After beginning the second round of action in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with brothers Ryan Kinseth and Brandon Kinseth, Ruth seperated himself with another 72. He then managed a one-over par 36 in the championship flight on the front nine.
“I’ve been close (to a city title) a few times, and I finished fifth last year,” Ruth said. “The key (Sunday) was I putted well, and my short game was spectacular.”
Ruth closed with a birdie on 6, along with bogeys on 1 and 3.
“I kind of stumbled a little bit there first (on the championship flight), but I was able to settle down,” said Ruth. “I thought the course conditions at both (the Country Club and Lakeside) were just spectacular. Fort Dodge Ford and The Messenger also deserve thanks for sponsoring and covering this event.”
Right behind were 2005 city king Ryan Kinseth (182) and Nick Johnson (184). Johnson actually shot the low tally (33) on the last nine holes.
“I had a good final round, and I enjoyed the camaraderie,” said Johnson. “It was a lot of fun to play out (at the Country Club). I thought the course was in great shape.”
Miller, who previously secured city gold in both 2010 and ’12 and silver in ’11, led wire-to-wire in posting a 176. Scott Harms (185) and Keith Messerly (190) were next in line.
“If you’ve won (the city tournament) before, that should always be your expectations,” Miller said. “I practiced a litle more seriously this year, and I hit a lot of balls at Lakeside.
“Both course superintendents (the Country Club’s Judd Gibb and Lakeside’s Chad Graaf) need to be congratulated, especially with the weather we’ve had this year. I like playing both golf courses.”
During the final round, Miller recorded birdies on 4, 7 and 8, with bogeys on 1 and 6.
Faiferlick easily bested the rest of the field, notching a 150. The former St. Edmond standout and current Park University team member has now won the last three city tournaments by a combined 59 strokes. Dee Cummins (178) and Jamie Pals (179) finished a distance second and third.
“I actually scored better than what I thought going in since I hadn’t played Lakeside since last year,” said Faiferlick. “I knew it would be a big challenge, but my biggest strength, at least this weekend, was hitting the ball with my irons.
“It’s always a challenge to keep your lead, stay focused and not worry about the other people. I feel like I’ve improved a lot since high school.”
Christensen had no trouble en route to her first-ever city triumph, firing a 161. Lori Spanjers (219) settled for a runner-up showing. Christensen placed second in both 2011 and 2012.
“This (tournament win) is one of those things I get to cross of my bucket list now,” Christensen said. “I’ve been playing this tournament (for 33 years), and I just wish more women would play, which makes me sad. There’s no reason not to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Both Chad and Judd did an awesome job of making things run and taking care of everything. We’re very fortunate to have these two courses (the Country Club and Lakeside) in our town.”
A total of 175 golfers participated in the four different tournaments over the weekend.