A playoff – the first ever for the South Dakota Pro-Am Open, which concluded Sunday at The Bluffs Golf Course in Vermillion – between Jason Preeo and Jason Thompson took four holes to decide the professional championship of the event. Thompson sank a birdie putt to win the title.
"I knew I had to make it; it was getting dark and I think we were all getting restless," Thompson said later, trophy in hand. "Jason and I played almost exactly the same, but I just had a better look at that birdie."
On the third hole, Preeo missed a short five-foot putt, which would have given him the title. His tap in for par sent the playoffs to the fourth hole.
"I just misread it," Preeo said later. "I hit it great and just missed it. I couldn't believe it; I thought for sure I had the thing wrapped up."
A Minot, ND native, Thompson didn't finish in the top 15 in each of the first two events on the Dakotas Tour. So, when asked how he put it together this weekend to win the title, Thompson said, "You know, I'm not sure. This course was in great shape, and I think I just relaxed today and didn't push it."
The four playoff holes saw a large group of fans awaiting the two men on the green. As Thompson said, it was a "night and day difference."
"I remember Jason saying that nobody was around at the tee," Thompson said. "But by the time we got to the greens, there were people everywhere. It got a little stressful."
Keating Fights Injury
One of the most recognizable faces on the Dakotas Tour was walking around the scoreboard on Sunday with an ice pack on his right wrist.
Turns out, Walter Keating had torn ligaments in that wrist five weeks ago in a Canadian pro tournament.
"I've just been grinding it out," Keating said. "The doctor told me I couldn't hurt it any worse. I didn't do anything special this weekend."
Keating finished the SD Open with a carding of 208, including a 68 on Sunday.
"I'll take what I got this weekend," Keating said, with a laugh.
The nine-year pro is easily the most dominating presence out on the course. The 6-foot-7, bald, left-handed power driver said he gets a lot of younger players asking him for advice.
"I don't mind helping out the young guys," Keating said. "That's what this tour is all about. Everyone out here is a class act; it's why I keep coming back."