BELOIT - Tim Johnson felt the pressure.
Johnson, competing at Sunday's final round of the Beloit City Men's Golf Tournament, was sweating in the sweltering conditions and from the heat he was feeling trying to protect a two-shot lead on the 18th hole at Krueger-Haskell Golf Course.
Johnson was just short of the green when he took out his reliable wedge and went to work, needing only to get in some decent proximity to the hole to virtually assure him of his first city title.
Instead, well, he chunked it, sending the ball only a few feet forward.
"It was the pressure, there's no question about it," Johnson, the lead pastor at Rock Valley Chapel, said. "I had never been in this position before, and I was feeling it. I was in between wedges there, but really all I needed to do was clear the fringe. Well, I got a little nervous and there was a deceleration, and that's what happened."
Johnson, who purposely avoided knowing the score difference between himself and second-place finisher Dan Schliesmann, thought he was only up a stroke, and had blown the lead.
When Schliesmann missed a long birdie putt, all Johnson had to do was two-putt to close the tournament out, and that's exactly what he did, with his son (and caddy) Nate by his side. Johnson finished with a final round of 72, and a 219 for the tournament.
"It feels really great," Johnson said. "I'm 52 years old, and you don't know how many chances you're going to get to win this thing. I've got to give a lot of credit to Nathaniel for calming me down, and to my daughter Carolyn, who caddied for me yesterday. I couldn't have done it without them."
Schliesmann entered Sunday with a three-stroke lead on Johnson, but the two went back and forth throughout the day. Schliesmann drained a 20-foot birdie putt on 16 to even the score up.
"That was like a Tiger moment for me," Schliesmann said. "I felt like I was in the zone there. To hit a huge putt like that to tie the score, that really was huge. But then, 17 happened."
Indeed, it did, and it made the difference in the tournament. Fresh off the great putt, Schliesmann flew his drive over the green and directly up against the chain-link fence behind the green on the par-three.
"I thought it was going to go a little more left than it did," Schliesmann said. "And that would've been a lot better, because there's more room to that side. I thought about taking a drop, but the result would've been the same. I just tried to get it up there."
Schliesmann could only chip the ball a few feet forward, and ended up with a double bogey. When Johnson sunk a six-footer for par, Schliesmann had to count on a collapse from Johnson, whose game is built on consistency.
Johnson, who expressed gratitude for his elders at the church for encouraging him to take the weekend off, finished with a final-round 72, shooting a 219 overall. Schliesmann shot a 76 after leading after each of the first two rounds.
"I' can't really say I'm satisfied with this," Schliesmann said. "Second place overall is really good, but when you shoot a 70 on the first day, and have a three-shot lead going into the final day, not winning was kind of the worst-case scenario. But it's good experience, and I'll take that into next year."
Finishing third was Collin Brockwell, who fired a final-round 72 to finish with a 221, one stroke better than five-time champion Andy Hagen and seven strokes better than defending champion Nick Hagen.
"I was really locked in from the 14th hole on," Brockwell said. "I parred out the last five holes. When I found out I was playing with the Hagen brothers, that was like a dream come true. And to finish better than them is an incredible feeling."
Dave DeGeorge fired a final day 72 to win the A flight with a 237, while Brad Heyerdahl shot a 266 to win the C flight. Kai Wong won the B flight, while Steve Sennett and Ron Wolf tied for the senior title.
• Championship flight results follow:
21.9- Johnson 75-72-72
220- Schliesmann 70-74-76
222- Andy Hagen 75-72-72
226- Oberneder 79-77-70
228- Waite 74-80-74; Klobucar 77-81-70; Nick Hagen 77-73-78
229- Stankewitz 76-72-81
237- Mitchell 86-78-73
242- Zahn 83-80-79
244- Polglaze 86-81-77
251- Colby 82-80-89
237- DeGeorge 86-79-72
242- Schuett 80-81-81
244- Johnson 78-87-79
248- Harris, 84-83-81
249- Williams 84-85-80
250- Cortez, 89-83-78;
251- Kirichkow, 85-85-81; Bertelson 79-89-83; Wandell 84-81-86
255- Quinn 87-89-79
257- Fenwick 85-87-85
259- Dailey 88-90-81
260- Champion 85-86-89
263- Josh Fenwick 85-87-85; Connell 89-83-91;
265- Christofferson 89-89-87;
291- Holmes 92-102-97
266- Heyerdahl 91-87-88
279- Christofferson 92-97-90
280- Huffman 94-94-92
281- Peterson 95-94-92
282- Turner 97-93-92;
285- Wheelock 96-94-95
290- Young 96-98-96