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Booting away pressure: Despite playing with a torn Achilles, Reisenauer wins 66th annual Kevin Bergman Labor Day Classic

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson’s Tyler Reisenauer putts on Hole No. 8 during the 66th annual Kevin Bergman Labor Day Classic on Monday at Heart River Golf Course. Due to a torn Achilles, Reisenauer had to play in a boot.

The start of the summer was less than ideal for Dickinson’s Tyler Reisenauer.

He tore his Achilles playing softball.

Yet, the injury — which has left Reisenauer with a boot on his left leg — didn’t stop him from edging Chandler Pender by one stroke during the championship flight of the 66th annual Kevin Bergman Labor Day Classic.

“I had zero expectations, which probably helped out,” Reisenauer said Monday at Heart River Golf Course. “When you come in as the defending champ, the pressure is on you and everyone expects you to play good. When you show up in a boot, nobody expects you to win. It’s just easier to play.

“I think I’m going to wear it next year,” he added with a laugh.

The boot, which Reisenauer has to wear at all times except for when his sleeps, doesn’t exactly help his golf game.

Due to playing in a boot, Reisenauer said he’s probably played about seven rounds this summer. That’s a far cry from most summers, when he would play five times a week.

“Usually, you can transition into your weight without a boot, and with this on I can’t transition to my left side,” he said. “Timing has to be pretty good. It’s definitely difficult.”

Reisenauer defeated Tyler Frenzel in a playoff before reaching the championship flight match against Pender.

During the championship match, Reisenauer and Pender were even after 15 holes. Reisenauer won Hole No. 16 and then finished even with Pender for a one-stroke victory.

“No. 16 is make or break every year in the Labor Day Classic,” Reisenauer said. “I knew if I made birdie, the momentum was definitely on my side. It helps when you get No. 16, that’s definitely the swing hole.”

Pender and Reisenauer know the course like the back of their hands. Pender played for the Dickinson High and Dickinson State golf teams, while Reisenauer played for the Dickinson Trinity golf team and won four of the last five Kevin Bergman Labor Day Classics.

“Tyler is a tough guy to beat,” Pender said. “You have to have your ‘A’ game and we both brought it (on Monday). I played him two years ago and it was the same thing. It went down to 18 and he birdied and I didn’t. It’s an honor playing with Tyler. It really is.”

After the first nine holes, Pender and Reisenauer were even.

It was on Hole No. 12 where Pender felt he missed the biggest opportunity to take a lead.

“I thought I had the momentum after nine,” Pender said. “The putt that I missed on 12 was the dagger there. I gave myself a chance and I just couldn’t capitalize on them.”

Likewise, Reisenauer knew defeating Pender wasn’t going to be an easy task.

“If you are going to make a bogey, you are going to lose a hole guaranteed,” Reisenauer said about playing Pender. “You have to make a birdie to beat him, which is fun. That makes the match good.”

Despite playing through pain, Reisenauer didn’t want to sit at home all weekend, while the rest of his friends were having fun at the golf course.

The Labor Day Classic is one event at the end of the summer where many golfers return to Dickinson.

“I probably shouldn’t have played, but I had to,” Reisenauer said. “My main goal was coming in here and having a good time. A lot of guys I see once a year and that was it. This is the tournament of the year for everyone around here.”

Call it the ‘Dougie’

There’s the dance called the “Dougie” and then there’s the saying from many Dickinson golfers about the approach shots from Doug Wellenstein which they also call the “Dougie.”

Wellenstein’s short game was on full display in the final group of the Labor Day Classic. Wellenstein defeated Craig Johnson 2 and 1 during the consolation championship of the Championship Flight.

“I did hurt my back earlier, so I was really sore out there,” Wellenstein said. “For me, that’s about as good as I can play.”

Wellenstein held a four-shot lead of Johnson after the first nine holes.

However, the match wasn’t over. Johnson sank back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to pull within one.

“(Johnson) still had two par 5s — 16 and 18 — and I was lucky to win 16,” Wellenstein said. “That was probably a very pivotal hole right there.”

Though his short game was working all weekend, Wellenstein said it’s more of a confidence mindset.

“These younger guys certainly hit it a lot further than I do,” he said. “I just try to hit fairways and greens and let the rest of it take care of itself.”

Other winners

T.C. Kick won the first flight over Zared Lefor, while Joel Kostelecky took the second flight with a win against Brent Gullicks. In the third flight, Joe Griesel defeated Mark Johnson and Scott Thompson won the fourth flight over Barry Donnan.

For the fifth flight, Curtis Everson topped Scott Ross. Bob King won the sixth flight over Tate Kick. Andrew Gullicks defeated Graydon Ash in the seventh flight. In the eighth flight, Jim Jahner beat Mel Hauck.

During the ninth flight, Mason Pokorny defeated Mirch Kick, while Alan Reed topped Pat Wanner in the 10th flight. For the 11th flight, Phil Levenseller took a win over Bruce Ellingson.

In the women’s championship flight, Judy Finck finished with an 89, while Ardean Ouellette had a 93 and Wanda Kick posted a 98. Connie Wolf rounded out the top four with a 102.

Championship flight

Tyler Reisenauer def. Chandler Pender

Consolation Doug Wellenstein def. Craig Johnson

First flight

T.C. Kick def. Zared Lefor

Consolation Cody Ketterling def. Casey King

Second flight

Joel Kostelecky def. Brent Gullicks

Consolation Jeremy Ficek def. Eric Gullicks

Third flight

Joe Griesel def. Mark Johnson

Consolation TJ Tooz def. Tom Volesky

Fourth flight

Scott Thompson def. Barry Donnan

Consolation Chad Welch def. Chase Gunwall

Fifth flight

Curtis Everson def. Scott Ross

Consolation Ben Nordsven def. Lucas Sandman

Sixth flight

Bob King def. Tate Kick

Consolation Jason Barkley def. Brandon Messer

Seventh flight

Andrew Gullicks def. Graydon Ash

Consolation Jim Agnew def. Derek Pauley

Eighth flight

Jim Jahner def. Mel Hauck

Consolation John Tuchscherer def. Kevin Sanford

Ninth flight

Mason Pokorny def. Mirch Kick

Consolation Bob Agnew def. Neil Kostelecky

10th flight

Alan Reed def. Pat Wanner

Consolation: Brandon Hockenson def. Mark Sandman

11th flight Phil Levenseller def. Bruce Ellingson

Consolation Josh Ross def. Tyler Frank

Women’s championship flight Judy Finck 89, Ardeson Ouelette 93, Wanda Kick 98, Connie Wolf 102.