MINNETRISTA — Good things come in pairs for Cecil Belisle.
Entering this week, the Red Wing native is a two-time Minnesota High School Boys Golf State Medalist (2017, 2019) and a two-time Division II Junior College National Medalist (2021, 2022).
Now Belisle can add the two-time Minnesota Golf Association Players Championship winner to that list.
The former South Mountain Community College (Phoenix) star defeated 5- and 4-year-old Ryan Conn in the final game of the 2022 MGA Players Championship on Wednesday at Burl Oaks Golf Club. This is the same score by which Belisle beat Conn in 2020 when he won his first Players.
Wednesday’s game also marked the first league rematch in the event’s 44-year history.
“It was just a coincidence,” Belisle told MNGolf.org with a smile after his win on Wednesday. “It was supposed to happen because I’m holding the trophy, but what happened in the past is in the past.
“I played solid, especially the final round – no bogeys. Ryan started hot and made a few mistakes here and there. I was stable, focused and determined. In match play, it’s grind mode. I grind when I practice; I work when I train and I work at school. That’s what this tournament is about and why I think I’m doing well.
Last season, Belisle — who is committed to Division I at the University of Kansas, where he will be a junior in the fall — closed out his freshman season at South Mountain Community College with an individual NJCAA National Championship title. before winning the Minnesota State Open in a playoff against 2021 MGA Men’s Player of the Year Derek Hitchner and two-time champion Ben Greve.
Belisle won a second consecutive national title to cap his second campaign last month before Wednesday’s victory, his eighth state championship title.
Entering the championship game on the 10th hole, A patient Belisle took advantage of back-to-back bogeys from Conn on the 14th and 15th holes to take a 2 lead before a third bogey from Conn on the 17th.
Conn rolled in a critical 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to shoot within two of Belisle through nine holes.
But a relentless Belisle kept going up and down for par and stifling any momentum Conn could muster.
Consecutive bogeys for Conn at second and third gave Belisle a 4 lead and the 2019 MGA Junior Boys Co-Player of the Year earned his second The Players Championship win by sinking his four-foot birdie chance at the fifth to win, 5 and 4.
Walking six rounds in three days in high temperatures has taken its toll on Belisle, 21, and his foot this week.
“I’m proud of how I stayed in the moment,” he said. “It didn’t matter how much my foot hurt, I don’t know what’s wrong, but it hurts. Don’t let that, or the blisters get to you. Ignore it and keep it stable – desire and will.”
Belisle continues to rack up MGA championships. He was part of the 2017 MGA Junior Team Champions, while earning medal honors at the event. In 2019, Belisle added a win at the Resorters golf tournament to his resume.
Wednesday’s result marks another close call for Conn, soon to be 40, whose only MGA victory came in the 2019 Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Hunter Rebrovich at The Classic at Madden’s.
Herzog reaches the semi-finals in match play
Another Red Wing native performed well at an MGA event this week.
Leah Herzog, a former Miss Golf of Minnesota (2019) who now plays for the University of Minnesota, made it all the way to the semifinals of the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship in Burl Oaks.
Herzog had a bye in the first round of the tournament – as did Lake City native Lexi Geolat – then beat Kyra Venne 4 and 2 in the round of 16. Minnewaska Golf Club’s Skaar, 4&2, in the semifinals.
New Prague’s Taylor Ledwein defeated Skaar in the final, 1-up.
Austin’s Geolat and Megan Thiravong were both defeated in the Round of 16.