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Brown takes home Labor Day title

WORTHINGTON -- Tony Brown's day was going pretty well through three holes at the Labor Day Golf Classic at the Worthington Country Club in Worthington Monday. That is, until his ball disappeared in a tree on the fourth hole.

Leistico chips
Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Tad Leistico chips on hole No. 9 at the Labor Day Golf Class at the Worthington Country Club Monday in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Tony Brown's day was going pretty well through three holes at the Labor Day Golf Classic at the Worthington Country Club in Worthington Monday. That is, until his ball disappeared in a tree on the fourth hole.

"On No. 4, I hit my drive into an evergreen tree and there were 500 people out here, but no one could find the ball," Brown, winner of the 2012 Labor Day Golf Classic, said. "It got stuck in the tree and so as I went back to the tee, I thought, 'That is why you make three birdies,' because that allows you a little bit of leeway."

Brown hit a 1-under 71 on the final day of play to take home his third Labor Day Classic trophy. Ryan Tjeerdsma took second with a 1-over 71, while Tad Leistico (4-over 71) and Andy Soper (7-over 71) took third and fourth, respectively.

"I had a three-shot lead coming into the final stretch, so when I hit it into the trees on 18, I still felt really comfortable," Brown, 42, said. "I've been here a few times, so coming down the stretch, I know what shots to hit. I didn't really feel the pressure until I hit it into the trees on 18."

To make it to the final four, all three finalists had to get out of the top eight by defeating their match-play opponents earlier in the day. Brown defeated Juleen Michels, Tjeerdsma beat Jordan Anderson, Leistico won his match over Jamie Quesnel and Soper beat out Ben Nath to make it to the final round.

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"It's a good feeling to win," Brown, a Wayzata resident, said. "I haven't really been competing in too many tournaments in the last few years, so to get back into the winners circle, I feel fortunate.

"I was playing against three really good players. It's a three-day grind. It's a marathon. It is not a sprint. I'm just real happy to come out on top this time."

On Friday, Brown added a new putter and driver to his golf bag. The change took a bit of getting used to, but Brown worked his way through it on his way to victory.

"It felt like each round I kept getting better and as the tournament went on," Brown said. "I just felt like, if the putter catches up to everything else, I have a pretty good chance."

Brown has played in many tournaments around the country, but he always finds his way back to the Worthington Country Club for the Labor Day Classic.

"I've missed the tournament once for a wedding and once because of an injury," Brown said. "Otherwise I'm back here all the time."

The Labor Day Classic has become a yearly tradition for Brown. His family cabin is located on Spirit Lake, so he just travels back and forth from the tournament to the cabin every year when he comes down for the long weekend.

"This is my favorite tournament out of any tournament I have every played; just the atmosphere, the people," Brown said. "Everybody is so nice and it is a great time."

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Brown has been golfing since he was little, learning the game from his grandfather, who owned a department store called Chozens in Jackson.

"My grandpa taught me to play when I was probably 4 years old," Brown said. "I learned how to play golf on the Jackson 9-hole golf course."

Brown plans to come back next year to defend his title as the Labor Day Classic champion.

Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi

may be reached at 376-7335.

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