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Golf: Prestigious Labor Day Classic is under way

WORTHINGTON -- It's the small-town tournament with the big-city feel. The Labor Day Classic Golf Tournament is in full swing today, with 68 participants in the championship flight winding down to a Monday afternoon Final Four 18-hole championship...

WORTHINGTON -- It’s the small-town tournament with the big-city feel.

The Labor Day Classic Golf Tournament is in full swing today, with 68 participants in the championship flight winding down to a Monday afternoon Final Four 18-hole championship.

This year marks the 63rd playing of the prestigious tournament, which lures competitors from locations throughout the U.S. including (in 2016) Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oregon and Nebraska.

Jamie Quesnel, the two-time defending champion from Lakeville, is back again to try to make it three titles in a row. Tony Brown of Plymouth, who won the crown in 2002 and 2012 and was part of the 2016 Final Four, is also back. So is 2013 champ Bret Taylor, formerly of Des Moines, Iowa, and now of Booneville, who was another 2016 Final Four participant. A fourth 2016 Final Four competitor, Kirby Brown of West Des Moines, Iowa, is also back this year.

While there are titles to be won in lesser flights, the Labor Day Classic earns its reputation on the championship flight’s Final Four competition, which usually begins at about 2 p.m. on the immaculate greens (courtesy of grounds superintendent Bob Wethor and his crew) of the Worthington Country Club. A large gallery of fans -- most of them noiselessly chugging along in golf carts -- follow the last four golfers around 18 holes, applauding graciously when difficult shots are converted.

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This year marks the second with the course under ownership of GreatLIFE Malaska Golf and Fitness Club of Sioux Falls, S.D. Cory Pelzel, head golf professional, said recently that one thing about the tournament has never changed, and that is the constant attempts to make the next Labor Day Classic even better than the last.

Deb Jaycox, general manager of the country club, said organizers strive to make the Classic more than just a golfer experience, but a community experience as well. Everyone in the community is welcome to follow the golfers, in carts or from a vantage point on the country club deck.

“We’re always looking at ways to make it a community event,” Jaycox said prior to the start of the 2016 extravaganza. “The tradition of the tournament is just a feeling that you’ll never know until you get out here.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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