CEDAR RAPIDS — Justin Pansegrau decided missing three tournaments was more than enough. Sidelined in mid-July with a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right hand after playing — of all things, kickball — the Cedar Rapids amateur golfer was ordered by doctors to refrain from playing golf for 12 weeks. That proved to be too much to ask.
“It happened at a really bad time for me,” Pansegrau said. “I decided I was going to hit some balls. Went out to the range, hit some balls, had no pain, and I just decided to give it a go.”
Pansegrau did more than give it a go. He finished fourth in the Aug. 3 Cedar Rapids City Am, then continued his resurgent August with a dominant match-play win, 7 and 6, over Iowa City’s Seth Schroeder to help Cedar Rapids retain the Ryder Cup trophy for the ninth consecutive year, 14.5-9.5, in singles’ play Sunday at Ellis Golf Course.
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” Pansegrau said. “Golf’s such an individual sport. Getting to play with a team, it always makes it fun.”
Cedar Rapids entered the day up 7.5-4.5 after Saturday’s fourball and foursome events. Jeff Wenthe was the lone Cedar Rapidian to win all three of his matches over the two days.
“I don’t hit it as far as everybody else,” Wenthe said. “So I just try to keep it in play, put it on the green and make pars.”
It was good day for both of Cedar Rapids’ recently-crowned amateur champions. City Am champion Chris James capped the victory for his squad with a win over Rob Cordle, 3 and 2. Scott Carnes — who won June’s Cedar Rapids Senior City Am — trailed for much of singles play against Randy Larson, only to turn the tables by winning a pair of late holes to claim the match, 2 and 1.
“The match play is really a grind because you are matched against one person,” teammate Steve Koepke said. “The grind is never giving up ... Doc Carnes knows how to grind.”
Koepke closed out the day with a strong start against Iowa City’s Jon Huinker, but then fell back with three consecutive bogeys beginning on hole No. 7. A clutch putt by Huinker on No. 17 extended the match to the final hole before Koepke prevailed, 1 up — sending his jubilant teammates to the Ellis clubhouse to celebrate another Ryder Cup title.
“The hardest thing to do is to hold on,” Koepke said. “It’s one thing to get it, it’s another thing to hold on to it ... Let’s hope that continues.”
If it does continue, it will be with Koepke at the helm. The Cedar Rapids Jefferson golf coach will assume the duties of team captain from Kevin Dolan. Iowa City also will have new captain next season as the spot transitions from Tim Hawkins, who hopes to have the tournament at Finkbine next year.
“We’d like to get there and play,” said Hawkins, who lost 2 and 1 to Kevin Ault. “It helps playing your home courses.”
The teams tied last year, 12-12. Cedar Rapids now leads the series, 10-4-2.
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