DAKOTA DUNES – For the second straight year, Jeff Donaldson and Bill Mathers battled down to the wire in the Siouxland Senior Open.
Last year, Donaldson edged his close friend by a shot for the title and on Wednesday, the two talented shotmakers finished tied at Two Rivers Golf Club.
Each matched par with 70 in perfect scoring conditions and when they each missed birdie putts on their last hole, they were more than happy to call it a tie.
“I don’t think we were more than one stroke apart the whole day,” said defending champion Donaldson. “It’s a lot of fun and as you get older, you realize that’s what it’s all about.”
Donaldson had a one-shot advantage heading to No. 8, which was the next-to-last hole of the day for the foursome that also included Mathers, Kirk Walker and Jim Tritz. Donaldson found the bunker and made bogey on the par-3 eighth, creating a tie with one hole remaining.
Mathers had the longer of two birdie opportunities on the par-4 ninth, a 20-footer that he just missed. Donaldson’s putt from around 15 feet also just slid by the cup and instead of a playoff, the two settled for a deadlock after they tapped in for par.
“It’s kind of surprising for me to say this, but my putter kind of saved me all day,” Mathers said. “I made three decent putts to save par and that saved my round.”
Mathers, 68, shared the Senior Open crown with Dan Freed a couple of years ago while the 52-year-old Donaldson picked up his second consecutive victory.
Or, should be say a victory-and-a-half?
“It was a great day weather-wise, the course was in great shape and we had great company,” Donaldson said. “And most of all it’s for a great cause. Alzheimers has affected our family recently and I know they’re raising nice funds for that so that’s cool.”
The Siouxland Senior Open has raised over $400,000 charitable dollars for Siouxland organizations since its inception in 1992. This year’s proceeds will benefit Sunrise Retirement Community’s $2.8 million campaign for the renovation of their memory care center. In case you’re not counting, this was the 26th year of the tournament.
Donaldson and Mathers will each be competing in the Tri-State Masters this weekend at Dakota Dunes Country Club, Covington Links and Green Valley. Donaldson tied for third in last year’s Tri-State and both he and Mathers have shown they can hold their own against players of any age.
They will each receive the Gunderson Cup and have their names etched on the Dale Mogren Memorial plaque.
Betty Rettenmaier made history by becoming the first winner of the women’s division last year. She repeated on Wednesday, shaving two strokes off her winning round from last year with a 79.
“It’s hard to believe I could actually do that, I had some stiff competition,” Rettenmaier said. “It was fun, the course was in great shape and it was a beautiful day. It was probably even greener than I would like it because my ball doesn’t roll as far.”
The men’s co-champions couldn’t walk away from the course without a little bit of friendly needling.
“I said, Bill, I think tie goes by height,” said the lanky Donaldson, a Hall of Fame basketball player at both North High and Briar Cliff University. “He said, no, I think it goes by age.”