First time’s the charm for Cloquet Invitational golf championBefore Thursday’s practice round, Cory Schultz never had played at Cloquet Country Club. After winning the 80th annual Cloquet Invitational on Sunday, he said it won’t take much to bring him back.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
CLOQUET — Before Thursday’s practice round, Cory Schultz never had played at Cloquet Country Club.
After putting an exclamation point on the 80th annual Cloquet Invitational with a final-round, 1-under-par 71 Sunday, the 42-year-old print shop worker from Dodge Center, Minn., said it won’t take much to bring him back.
“If my schedule allows, I will be back for sure,” said Schultz, who shot a 2-over 215 total to win by five strokes. “It won’t take much of an arm twist to get me back up here.”
Schultz, the first-round co-leader, was a stroke behind Shane Johnson entering Sunday’s final 18 holes. He and Johnson were tied at 5-over for the tournament while playing No. 9. That’s when Schultz hit a 3-iron about 50 feet from the pin at the 543-yard, par-5 hole, and then drained the ensuing eagle putt from the front left edge of the green.
“It was such a fast putt that the only thing I was trying to do was get it down there where I’d have a chance at making birdie,” he said of the putt that broke 6 to 7 feet. “It was such a long putt that I walked halfway to the hole before it went in. That was a huge bonus.”
Schultz, who had bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, threw his arms in the air and made the turn two shots ahead of Johnson.
“I just needed something to happen; I really wanted to make birdie there, at worst,” he said. “When that eagle went in and Shane ended up making (par), that really pumped me up.
“But more of a confidence boost was when I made a 10-foot putt for par on the 10th. If I had missed that and given one of those shots back, you might get a different frame of mind going. But I was relieved and pumped up when I made that par putt. I felt in control on the back side.”
John Sheff, playing in his 30th Cloquet Invitational, shot par 71 to finish second for an amazing 12th time without a victory on his home course. He said Schultz didn’t make any errors on the back nine to allow anyone to make a run.
“Seven through 12, I had a couple good birdie opportunities,” Sheff said. “One I three-putted, then he made eagle (on the ninth). He was under par after that stretch of holes — and looked like he easily could have played it a couple over — and I went the other way. I never could catch him after that.”
Johnson of Duluth faded to third with a 78 to finish seven shots behind. Steve Gault’s tournament-best 69 allowed him to catapault to fourth. NHL veteran Jamie Langenbrunner, the 2009 champion, tied for sixth with a 228.
Schultz, who plays out of Owatonna Country Club, graduated from Owatonna High School and attended Texas Lutheran in Seguin, Texas, on a golf scholarship. After graduating college, he said he attempted to play professionally on mini-tours, “but I never was quite good enough. When you are a fringe player, it’s such an expensive thing to do.”
He regained his amateur status about a decade ago and has won more than a dozen tournaments since. He knew immediately Cloquet Country Club fit his game.
“I generally hit it straight, and that’s one thing you have to do here. I like courses that are framed by pine trees,” he said. “I felt at home right off the bat.”
At Cloquet Country Club, par-71
Sunday’s Final Results
1. Cory Schultz 70–215; 2. John Sheff 71–220; 3. Shane Johnson 78–222; 4. Steve Gault 69–224; 5. Ross Fremont 70–225; 6. (tie) Scott Anderson 76–228 and Jamie Langenbrunner 77–228; 8. (tie) Brent Lexvold 76–229, Rich Mertz 74–229 and Tom Cox 73–229.