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Teeing off on the field

WORTHINGTON -- With four birdies and an eagle on the back nine, Jeff Berkshire pulled away from the rest of the final group to win the 53rd Worthington Labor Day Classic golf tournament Monday afternoon at the Worthington Country Club.

WORTHINGTON -- With four birdies and an eagle on the back nine, Jeff Berkshire pulled away from the rest of the final group to win the 53rd Worthington Labor Day Classic golf tournament Monday afternoon at the Worthington Country Club.

A fairly close contest at the turn, Berkshire turned it on to post a round of 68 -- beating hometown favorite Josh "Woody" Krommendyk (73) by five strokes.

"That eagle on No. 12 really got me going," the Phoenix-native said. "When you hit it that close for an opportunity at an eagle, it definitely gets you going."

Berkshire, who attends Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, hit his second shot on the 499-yard par-5 12th hole about a foot from the cup. An easy putt followed and Berkshire was at 1-under -- four strokes ahead of Krommendyk.

Berkshire faltered a bit on No. 13 -- bogeying the hole -- as Krommendyk birdied to cut the deficit to two strokes and gained the momentum. But Berkshire birdied three of the last five holes to take home the cup.

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"Hats off to Jeff, he's a heck of a player," Krommendyk said. "He's as solid of a guy as we've seen in the final four in a while."

Krommendyk, the 2004 champion, kept the pressure on Berkshire and had a couple of opportunities to catch him. On Nos. 15 and 16 Berkshire had a little trouble off the tee.

On the 385-yard par-4 15th hole, Berkshire sliced into the trees, but recovered with his second shot to pull out the par. Krommendyk also made par to keep Berkshire on his toes.

Berkshire then found the bunker to the left of the green with his tee shot on the 312-yard par-4 No. 16. Krommendyk, meanwhile, put his second ball about four feet from the cup -- setting up a nice birdie attempt.

Berkshire then dazzled the large gallery with a perfect sand shot, placing his ball a mere eight inches from the hole. Unfortunately for Krommendyk, his birdie attempt narrowly missed, and another opportunity slipped by.

"I was hoping to find a little chink in the armor," said Krommendyk, who had to go six extra holes with Ross Hamann just to qualify for the final round. "But he definitely wasn't showing any signs that he was going to give up the lead."

The other players in the final foursome, Jordan Anderson (from St. Paul) and Neil Johnson (of Clive, Iowa), finished with rounds of 78 and 79, respectively. Johnson looked to be the early favorite as he was the only player to birdie the first hole, but a bogey on No. 2 left him even with Berkshire and Anderson.

Still, Johnson made the turn tied with Berkshire at 37. But whether it was nerves or tiredness, Johnson struggled on the back nine to finish in fourth.

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Anderson was brilliant at times, but was unable to consistently find his stroke. The St. John's graduate birdied Nos. 12 and 16.

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