Tykle of Lakeville clips Nath of Luverne for LDC victory
WORTHINGTON -- In an unusual finish to a highly unusual Labor Day Classic on Monday, first-time tournament entry Max Tykle wiggled free from the brink of defeat to win on the first sudden-death hole at GreatLIFE Golf and Fitness Club in Worthington.
The day was cold and windy, as if summer -- so near when the weekend began -- simply vanished without a trace. The Final Four players wore long-sleeved jackets on Monday; one wore a stocking cap. Some members of the gallery who came to watch in their rolling carts (though not as many this year) followed in winter coats, blankets and gloves.
Tykle, of Lakeville, and Luverne’s Ben Nath were both even at two over-par heading into the par-4 18th hole. After they hit their tee and approach shots, it looked as if the tournament was Tykle’s to win, but Nath amazed everyone by sinking an 18-foot putt from the fringe above the hole. Tykle then sunk a 3-foot putt to force a playoff hole on the par-3 tenth.
Here, the odds went against Tykle, whose tee shot soared high onto the fringe area behind the green with a long way coming back to the hole. Nath’s shot was on the short end off of the green, and he faced an easier second shot. But Tykle placed his next shot near the hole. Nath missed a short putt. Tykle converted the putt that ended the drama.
“Eighteen was weird,” Tykle said afterward. “I was out, hit a good chip up. That’s just one of those things, you expect him to make it and he did. … That’s what makes it fun for everyone.”
The 10th hole climax was as unnatural as the weather.
“Not the way you expect it to go. Not saying that’s the way I wanted to win,” Tykle said. “But it is the way it is. He played great all day, and he made the putt to keep it going.”
After 18 holes, Tykle and Nath were together at two strokes over par, while the other Final Four competitors Jamie Quesnel of Lakeville and Brett Benson of Bird Island (formerly of Jackson) finished three over and five over, respectively.
In many past Labor Day Classics, one or two final round golfers tend to fall off the pace halfway through the tournament. That would have been predictable on Monday, where golfers fought off the conditions as much as they fought off each other. But instead, all four remained competitive for nearly the entire time. With three holes left to play, only three strokes separated the foursome.
Ironically, Tykle barely made it into the tournament. On Friday, the day before the tournament’s first round, Tykle called his friend, Quesnel, to inform him that he had officially qualified as an alternate. It was Quesnel, who was also a part of the Final Four last year, who had encouraged his golfing buddy to compete.
“He’s been talking this up for two or three years now. We finally made it work,” Tykle said.
Both Tykle and Quesnel say they’ll be back next year. Quesnel is now a regular, and after receiving his championship trophy from Ken Duke -- a celebrated LDC competitor who turned professional in 1994 -- Tykle sounded like he may become a regular, too.
“I know it’s my first time, but I cannot wait to come back,” the 28-year-old told his new fans.
A graduate of Eastville High School in Apple Valley, Tykle credited all of his Final Four rivals for hanging in all the way to the end. “For the first 14 holes, it was right there,” he said.
The cold, blustery weather didn’t make things easy for anyone.
“So windy it was, it was so hard to keep it in the fairway. And they weren’t overly generous with the pins,” he smiled.
But Tykle doesn’t mind bad golfing weather, and he also said he likes “the grind.” He added: “The harder it gets, normally my scores don’t change much.”