Larson wins Birchmont Golf Tournament
BEMIDJI — Even at the age of 35, Johnny Larson still figures out ways to win golf tournaments across the state.
The former Minnesota Gopher and Iowa State golfer completed a week-long tournament at Birchmont in Bemidji last week, winning the Birchmont Golf Tournament for the third time in his career.
Around the New Ulm Country Club, Larson is well-known for winning the New Ulm Invitational six times. He’s hoping to be back this year for a seventh title, depending on what his schedule looks like.
Larson began the Birchmont Tournament on Monday, shooting a two-day total of 148 to advance to the tournament’s match play, where the top 32 players advance and compete the rest of the week.
From there, he kept advancing, beating competitors from all over the state. The three-time champion defeated Cody Cook on Friday when he won on the 18th hole and that moved him to the final four competitors.
On Saturday, he defeated Mason Opheim and then Danny Menton to win his match 2-1.
Larson said that the tournament began to take its toll on him later in the week.
“On Saturday, it got to be a pretty long day because I don’t play as much as I used to,” he said. “You start playing that many days in a row, you start to get tired towards the end of the week, but it’s a little easier to play if you’re playing good.”
Larson is no stranger to playing good. He was the Class A state high school champion for Springfield in 2003 and he later went on to win tournaments sponsored by the Minnesota Golf Association, notably the State Match Play Tournament in 2014. He also teamed up with former college teammate at the U of M, Mike Fielder, to win the 4-Ball Tournament in 2017.
As a veteran of the course, he knew exactly how to approach it.
“Throughout the years, you learn there’s a lot of risk reward out there, so the guys that don’t know it that well try to blast drivers all over the golf course,” Larson said. ”I think each day, I think I only hit three or four drivers throughout the whole round. You just kind of play it safe and it’s kind of a target golf course, the more you play it, you kind of get an edge on some of the younger guys.
Larson has always been calm on the course and on Saturday, it was no different.
“Throughout the years, I’ve actually played a little bit better when I’ve had a little bit of pressure on me,” Larson said. “If you get into the spots where the blood pressure goes up a little bit, I think that kind of helps me play a little better.”