Mikkel Mathiesen is the 99th Metropolitan Champion after firing a closing round 69 at Country Club of the North. His 15-under par was good enough to hold off Justin Horn and Davis Root. Mathiesen is a rising senior at Wright State who was born in Denmark but grew up in Qatar.
The victory marks the second straight year that a player from Wright State has won the Met; Bryce Haney triumphed in 2021. Wright State was well represented on the leaderboard this year, too. Davis Root played at Wright State, and Bryce Haney defended his title honorably with a fourth-place finish.
While Country Club of The North is close to his current home of Beavercreek, Ohio, it is a far cry from Qatar where he learned to golf alongside his father. Mathiesen’s family moved to Qatar when his father landed a job in the oil industry. He lived in Doha and started attending free junior clinics when he was 6 years old at the only course in the country, Doha Golf Club.
“I was playing the same golf course over and over for ten years,” Mathiesen said.
The Doha Oilmen Academy also offered a great opportunity for Mathiesen to learn the game.
“They were really good at sponsoring and supporting young golfers down there,” Mathiesen said.
It took an organization called Next Collegiate Student Athlete to connect Mathiesen and Brain Arlinghaus, the golf coach at Wright State (now at Xavier).
“He saw my swing and some of my scores and liked what he saw, I guess,” Mathiesen said.
Following a road trip from Miami, Fla. to Ohio, Mathiesen visited campus as decided to become a Raider.
The Met has an interesting distinction for Mathiesen. When he the event played in 2019, it was his first tournament on American soil
“I think I finished twentieth or so,” he said. “I was pretty jet-lagged.”
No jet-lag this week.
During the week, Mathiesen said a victory, or at least the opportunity to compete for a win, became a reality when he shot 31 on the front nine in the third round. He made four straight birdies to give him some hope.
While Mathiesen’s three shot victory might appear undramatic, there was a back nine battle that pushed Mathiesen to hit some very important shots. Paired with Horn and Root for the second straight day, Mathiesen was able to keep an eye on his closest chasers. While Mathiesen and Horn spun their wheels on the opening 13 holes, playing them in even par, Davis Root climbed the leaderboard with a birdie binge in the middle of his round.
“It felt kind of crazy out there,” Mathiesen said. “Birdies were dropping from everywhere all week. It’s a course you can go deep. All the par fives are pretty reachable.”
There were some low scores and incredible rounds. Haney made an albatross on the par-5 8th hole in the third round. Root had already fired a 29 on the front nine in the second round, and also played the second hole in seven under par for the week, including eagles in each of the final three rounds. Root did his best to add to the drama in the fourth round. After starting the day 9-under par and three shots off the lead, Root played holes Nos. 8-14 in 5-under par. He was suddenly at 14-under par and in contention.
Dueling with a teammate down the stretch felt odd to Mathiesen.
“We play a lot of golf together,” Mathiesen said. “But it was strange playing against each other. If I was going to lose. I would have wanted it to be to one of my teammates.”
Mathiesen was 12-under par after 13 holes, and it seemed like he and Horn needed some magic to chase down the red hot Root.
They both found that magic.
“I feel like I was pretty patient the whole day. We weren’t really missing any short putts,” Mathiesen said. “We just kept making pars.”
A pivotal moment came on the par-4 14th hole when Root tapped in for a birdie. Mathiesen was staring at a 12-foot putt to keep pace with his teammate.
“I told myself, ‘This needs to go in’, so I could gain some momentum.”
The momentum carried Mathiesen to the 15th hole where he just missed an eagle putt on the par 5, but the birdie helped him stay in the lead. Root also birdied and Horn made eagle.
A pitching wedge to 5 feet on the 16th hole helped Mathiesen capitalize on a Root bogey. From there, Root finished with two more bogeys and slid to 11-under par and a third place finish.
A two shot lead with two holes to play is always a tenuous one. A small mistake can lead to a two-shot swing. With the “crazy” golf that Mathiesen saw all week, he knew there could be one more twist in the 99th Met.
When Horn made a birdied on the par-3 17th, it was suddenly back to a one shot lead for Mathiesen. The same lead he arrived with in the morning.
Unfortunately, the 18th hole at CC of The North can be penal when players need a birdie. Horn’s approach shot missed the right side of the green and tumbled into some deep fescue. When the dust settled, he made a double-bogey. Mathiesen’s tidy par helped him secure the MET Championship 7,000 miles from his childhood home in the middle east.
Mathiesen said he felt his game was trending up this summer. A fifth place finish at the Monroe Invitational, after a last minute spot opened up for him, gave him some confidence. Now he’ll head south to Cincinnati for the Ohio Amateur Championship at Maketewah CC before taking some time off to get ready for his senior year.