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Leistico wins Labor Day Classic

WORTHINGTON -- Tad Leistico met Todd Sapp for the first time last month at the Yankton Pro Am.

That day, Sapp was the victor. However, Monday at the Labor Day Classic, Leistico returned the favor.

"I beat Tad in Yankton a couple of weeks ago," Sapp said. "I got first and he got second. I guess this is his turn. Now I think we're even."

Leistico shot a final-round 75 to win the 2007 Labor Day Classic at Worthington Country Club. A 1992 graduate of Worthington High School, Leistico also won the classic in 1999.

"It's always great coming back here, and for me, it's one of those tournaments that's a lot of fun to be a part of," Leistico said. "Winning it previously, this one meant that much more. It would have been nice to have been able to enjoy the walk coming down, but the guys played really well all the way down and didn't give me any room to breathe."

Going into the 18th hole, Leistico was tied with Sapp and Brett Benson at four-over. Benson and Sapp were both left on their drive, while Leistico had hit a tree, but was sitting in the middle of the fairway.

Sapp, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, who was making his first appearance at the classic, said playing the 18th at WCC only once was a disadvantage.

"I never played 18, except for qualifying, and I just obviously felt a hair uncomfortable when I got to 18," Sapp said. "I didn't know what to hit or my yardage. I needed to play 18 a few more times to understand the hole."

Sapp and Benson both hit their approach shots long, while Leistico was right off the green. Sapp and Benson put their shots on the green, but were left with difficult putts.

However, Leistico's chip left him with a four-footer for the win.

"I knew when he chipped it to where he did it was over," Sapp said. "But good for him, there's other years and we'll keep grinding."

Sapp and Benson both bogeyed the hole to shoot a 76 and tie for second, while Josh "Woody" Krommendyk pared the final hole for a 77 and fourth place.

"Fourth place is a lot better than most," Krommendyk said. "I'm going to take it, and I'm going to accept it and like it. Everything went pretty well this weekend, and we had a good time overall."

Leistico pared the first hole, while his counterparts bogeyed, as he held an early lead.

"It was a big high initially," Leistico said. "Coming back from my match this morning, being two down with three to go, and birdieing two of the last three holes and then birdieing the playoff hole. So it was a lot of adrenaline the first few holes."

However, Leistico came back down with a double-bogey on the second.

At the turn, Leistico, Krommendyk and Benson all shot 38, and Sapp trailed with a 39.

All four golfers hit the green on the par-3 10th, and all but Leistico narrowly missed their putt. Leistico rolled in a birdie to take a one-shot lead.

All but Leistico birdied the 11th, and Krommendyk said that he was feeling confident.

"The back nine out here is where I give it the green light," Krommendyk said. "I feel like there's a birdie on just about every hole. I figured that if I survive the front nine, I have just as good of chance as any to come back and turn it on on the backside."

However, that confidence did not last for Krommendyk, as he bogeyed the next three to fall three shots off the lead.

"Golf's a game of momentum, and I definitely had the momentum going after I made birdie on 11," Krommendyk said. "I felt the cheers from the crowd and I felt people pulling for me. I didn't come through on 12, and that's where I kind of skidded a little bit. I made a couple bogeys in a row."

Meanwhile, Sapp was making his charge. He birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th and held a one-shot lead going into the par-3 14th.

"I birdied three in a row to go one up," Sapp said. "When I was on the par-3, I was thinking, 'you just keep going and seal the deal' and that was a little disappointing right there."

Sapp was not able to keep the string going, as he bogeyed the hole to fall even with Benson and Leistico.

"That par-3 and the next hole, I needed to go two or three up," Sapp said. "Unfortunately, those are hard golf holes with hard pin placements, and it didn't work out."

Trailing by three at this point, Krommendyk was not finished just yet. After a drive in the right rough on 15, Krommendyk hit hit approach shot close to the pin and sank the putt for birdie.

"I was under the tree, and I hit a little punch shot up to the back of the green and I rolled in another putt," Krommendyk said. "It was a two-shot swing, with everybody making bogey."

Now only trailing by one, Krommendyk hit a drive down the middle on 16. However, the 16th proved to be the difference in the round.

Krommendyk hit what he thought was a great shot to the green, but unfortunately, the ball rolled back into the sand.

"Then I hit a good drive on 16 and I thought I hit an absolutely perfect shot on 16," Krommendyk said. "I picked out the spot and it landed exactly where I wanted it. It took a little bounce left, and I wasn't really thinking that it would roll left. Unfortunately, it rolled into the bunker."

Leistico separated himself with a par, and said the experience of playing the hole before was beneficial.

"The 16th hole is always the swing hole," Leistico said. "The most noticeable thing was the two guys who had never played in the final four before both hit irons off the tee. I just wanted to really get aggressive and hit it as close to the green as I could to give myself the best opportunity to make a birdie."

After a par for Leistico, the group moved to 17. Krommendyk was in good position after his second shot into the par-5, but was unable to get his approach shot on the green.

"That's where I didn't come through where I needed to," Krommendyk said. "I'll remember that shot for a long time, that I didn't come through in the clutch at that moment in time. I think that would have been the determining factor of me being right there."

Sapp and Benson both pared to even the score with Leistico going into 18, but Leistico took the victory with a par on the last hole.

But for Krommendyk, being able to play with a friend was special enough.

"Hats off to Tad," Krommendyk said. "He's a great player and a great friend of mine, and I wouldn't have had anybody else to play with than one of my best friends in the final four. It's always been a dream of mine to be able to play with one of my good buddies in the final four. Other than me not winning the tournament, my dream came true, so I can hang my hat on that."