Jaysen Hansen’s Rally From Five Shots Back Clinches NOPGA Professional Championship

MANSFIELD: He thought he would have to shoot an incredible round to win. As it turned out, it only took a superb round to make Beechmont Head Golf Professional Jaysen Hansen the Northern Ohio PGA Professional Championship winner.

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Hansen shot a final-round 4-under 68 – the lowest round of the tournament – to finish with a 54-hole total of 4-under 212 for a one-stroke victory over three others.

Hansen, in his seventh year at Beechmont, began the day five shots behind the leader but three birdies on the front nine and two more on the back enabled him to move to the top of the leaderboard and claim the $3,000 first-place check, as well as enhance his standing in the NOPGA’s Player of the Year race.

“This is something I have been trying to do for a long, long time,” said Hansen, a two-time NOPGA Player-of-the-Year.

It took 53 holes but Hansen eventually climbed over eventual runnersup Jim Troy (Homna Golf USA), Mark Sierak (Barrington) and Randy Dietz (Windmill Golf Center), as well as fifth-place qualifier Adam Lewicki, an Assistant Golf Professional at Portage Country Club and a former Hansen assistant. Lewicki (73) came in at 214.

All five earned a trip to the 54th Annual PGA National Professional Championship to be held April 25-28 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Hansen, winning this event for the first time but an eight-time qualifier to the National Championship, said he thought it would take a final-round of 9-under 63 to win.
“Nine-under was out there,” he said. “If you play smart and play well you can do it. That’s the number I thought I had to do but I never thought that 68 would win. I thought it would get me into the top five, which obviously is the goal.”

The 68 did more than that as the other contenders all fell victim to back-to-back double bogeys along the way.

Second-round leader Sierak shared the lead at 4-under until back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th hole. Dietz, who began the day in second place, was 5-under through 11 holes but he also suffered consecutive bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes.

Consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th pulled Troy into a share of the lead at 5-under at one point, but he too, suffered back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th.

Lewicki, the sentimental underdog, began the day two shots behind Sierak but quickly got into contention with birdies on the first two holes. Additional birdies on the eighth and 11th holes kept in in contention but three bogeys in a four-hole stretch ended his hopes.

Hansen, the NOPGA Player of the Year in 2009 and 2016, got off to a rousing start with birdies on three of the first five holes and add three more on the back nine, including a decisive 2 on the par-3 17th hole that got him to 4-under while the others struggled.

“The birdie on 17 was huge,” said Hansen, whose final round consisted of six birdies and two bogeys. “But the putt on 15 was probably the one that kept it going.”

The putt on 15 for par came from about six feet and kept him at 3-under but the putt two holes later was a testy 10-footer.

After making birdie at the first and fourth to get to 2-under, Hansen missed what he called a “good look at eagle” from about eight feet on the par-5 fifth.

Jon Jones (Youngstown Country Club), Rob Moss (Pepper Pike), Gary Robison (Canton Brookside) and Joe Meglen (Stonebrook GolfTec) earned spots as alternates.

Lewicki, who was 6-under after his fourth birdie of the day on the 11th but fell back, had a great chance to get to 4-under at the par-3 17th but his birdie attempt from about five feet came up an inch short.

“It was a good putt, I thought I made it,” he said. “It was beyond makeable. But it didn’t go in. I’ll admit there were some nerves involved there. But, all in all it was a good week. I had three goals in mind. One, to make the cut. Two, to qualify for the national. Three, to win. Two out of three is not bad.”

Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.