ATLANTIC — One could sense the 2019 Tournament of Champions was going to come down to the final hole.
And in the end, it was Nathan Zimmerman who let out a loud whoop as the significance of his birdie sank in.
Down by one stroke to Jared Koch, a sensational performance on the par-5 18th hole — that birdie — gave Zimmeran, representing the Treynor Recreation Area Golf Course, the tournament championship Sunday afternoon at Atlantic Golf & Country Club.
He more than made up for his tee shot on the 18th going too far right on his second shot. A long second shot righted the ship and gave him a chance, but he also needed some luck.
But Koch’s green shot for par rimmed out, and no playoff was needed. Zimmerman had the win.
Zimmerman said a good first two days helped put him in position, and familiarity with where the hazards were helped.
“The second day I was in the bunker and first day I was just right at the bunker, so I knew the shot and knew what I had to do. Pin wasn’t different than where it was right now.
“I was one down and knew I had to make birdie to at least give myself a chance. Jared was playing well all day and consistent. He’s played really good golf this weekend, I can’t give enough credit to him. I’m just real happy to be where I’m at right now.”
Koch said that Zimmerman played him very well and noted how competitive things were between the two during the whole event.
“He’s a fantastic player and we both had good front 9s,” he said. “I was two up on him but he got it tied up with six holes, and it was kind of back-and-forth until I got one-up on him on the 16th and tied him on the 17th.
“He had a great birdie and I made some mistakes and that’s golf. That’s the way it is,” Koch continued, lauding the welcoming atmosphere and how friendly the people were, asking how he was and wishing him good luck. “This is the best I’ve ever done down here and it’s just a great atmosphere and great golfers. I want to thank the volunteers and staff that put this on.”
Zimmerman — who finished with rounds of 66, 69 and 65 — gave credit to his putter. His grandfather gave it to him during his sophomore year of high school, and as it turned out it brought him a lot of luck during the three-day tournament.
For awhile, it appeared the final day of the annual tournament, which draws champion golfers from golf clubs across Iowa, wasn’t going to happen, as heavy thunderstorms and lightning put off Sunday’s 9 a.m. planned tee times. After two delays and the skies clearing, the tournament got underway at 12:30 p.m. with a shotgun start.
Koch, representing the Majestic Hills Golf Course in Denison, ended with rounds of 65 and a pair of 68s to finish 5-under with a 201. Atlantic’s Jake Olsen, on his home course, finished third with a 68, 65 and 71.
Past champion Alex Bireline was fourth at 1-over, one stroke ahead of Zach Christianson and Ron Peterson. Both Bireline and Peterson were past champions.
Zimmerman gave all the credit to his family.
“All my family’s here. My girlfriend’s here and her parents are here,” he said, also giving credit to his caddy, Cole Chapin. “He’s helped me out a lot and my dad helped me out too, kept me cool.”
Last year’s champion, Derek Jacobsen, was never a factor in his bid to repeat as chamnpion, finishing 28th with a three-day score of 225, or 19 over par. A Day 3 score of 72 wasn’t enough.
Darby McLaren, Evan Schuler, Matt Haley and Chris Nelson rounded out the top 10
SENIORS, SUPER SENIORS
Darron Baker won his second-straight title with a three-day score of 217, good for 11 over par. He outdistanced past champion Rick Thompson, who ended with a 219. Don Newbury’s 220 was good for third.
Super Senior winner was Jim Mullenix, who won a playoff on his home course. Mullenix tied Arnie Leistad with 54-hole scores of 215, or 9-over par, and Mullenix went on to the sudden death win. John Willmore, last year’s champion, was 14 over par to take third.