Wright finds a way to win

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 12, 2002

Steve Wright admitted he was more than a little nervous during the final nine holes of the 2002 Albert Lea City Open Golf Tournament.

Then things got really intense.

Wright found himself in a sudden-death playoff with Mick Hockinson and then found his ball in a bunker. He overcame both to claim the championship.

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&uot;I’m not used to tournament golf,&uot; said Wright, 42. &uot;I just started playing golf seriously the last couple years.&uot;

Wright became only the second player other than Chris Baas or Phil Schmidt to win the City Open since 1995. The other champ was Hockinson, who won it in 1997. Schmidt has turned pro while Baas, who played in a state tournament Saturday, caddied for Wright during Sunday’s final round at Green Lea Golf Course.

&uot;I got a lot of help from Chris Baas,&uot; said Wright, whose handicap is down to a 1 after a 6 or 7 a couple years ago. &uot;It was great to have him caddy for me.&uot;

Both Wright and Hockinson totaled 186 strokes through 54 holes, 18 Saturday at Albert Lea Golf Club and 27 Sunday at Green Lea.

Wright said he felt fortunate to outduel the 43-year-old Hockinson.

&uot;I played in high school with Hock, and Hock’s tough,&uot; said Wright.

Hockinson had mixed feelings.

&uot;I’m happy for Steve,&uot; he said. &uot;I played with him all day today. He has great powers of concentration. I was a little disappointed in my own play. When I had to hit a necessary shot that I normally can make, today it just wasn’t happening. You always want to be in a position to win at the end, and I got myself there, but the better player today won the tournament, and I’m very happy for him.&uot;

There was also a playoff for third place between recent Albert Lea High School graduate Ryan Thompson and his father, Wayne. Both had 190 through 54 holes. Ryan won the playoff on the first hole.

Eric Amann finished fifth at 192, followed by four players at 193 &045; Dan Breuer, Scott Rasmussen, Lynn Toenges and Lance Engebretson.

The top finishers, by flight:

– Championship &045; 1. Steve Wright, 186; 2.Mick Hockinson, 186; 3. Ryan Thompson, 190;

– First flight &045; 1. Justin Nelson, 149; 2. Brett Wuerflein, 157; 3. Brad Williamson, 157;

– Second flight &045; 1. Ross Peterson, 163; 2. Ron Hansen, 166; 3. Jeff Bowman, 166;

– Third flight &045; 1. Joe Sczublewski, 164; 2. Dick Diggins, 170; 3. Bob Johnson, 170;

– Fourth flight &045; 1. Mike Billat, 163; 2. Leon Billat, 176; 3. Rod Tharaldson, 181;

– Fifth flight &045; 1. Dave Lundak, 172; 2. John Schultz, 175; 3. John Krieger, 186;

– Sixth flight &045; 1. Mike Strothman, 188; 2. Bill Elliott, 198; 3. John Kalis, 201.