A 65 Helps Hitchner and Blake Boys Remain on Top of Class AA
June 16, 2016
By Nick Hunter
JORDAN, Minn. – It has been said that a golf tournament cannot be won on the first day. It’s a concept Blake sophomore clearly doesn’t buy into as he fired a 7-under par 65 during the opening round of the 2016 Minnesota State Boys’ Class AA Championship Wednesday at Ridges at Sand Creek.
Hitchner casually carded a 3-under par 69 during the final round Wednesday to earn medalist honors by 11 strokes while helping Blake to its second consecutive team title.
“The round went really well—it was one of the best putting days of my life,” Hitchner said following his early round Wednesday. “I gave myself some really good looks on the green. It was definitely a break-through round for me. I’ve been close a few times but I was finally able to put something together.”
While it’s unclear if a 65 set any tournament records, Hitchner was more than happy with the first bogey-free round of his career, dropping three birdies on the opening nine before carding four more on the back, narrowly missing an eighth on the final hole.
Carrying a five-shot lead into the final round, Hitchner started quick by rolling in a birdie at the par-4 fourth before chipping in for eagle at the seventh to move to 10-under par for the championship.
Hitchner’s only blemish during the 36-hole competition came at the par-4 eighth hole where he would find the water with his approach and take double-bogey, turning at 1-under for the round.
Stuffing his approach inside of five feet at the par-4 12th, Hitchner converted his birdie opportunity to move back to 9-under.
His collected demeanor was evident late during the second round as his tee shot found the right rough at the long par-4 13th. Hitchner’s second missed the green left, but with a spectacular pitch to within two feet, he was able to save par.
Hitcher again pushed his tee shot right of the 16th fairway but recovered by lying up with his second shot. Putting his approach 20 feet left of the flagstick, Hitchner’s birdie putt slammed inside the left edge of the cup to put him at 10-under for the championship.
A pair of two-putt pars was all that was left to cap an impressive perfomance from a 16-year-old as Hitchner claimed his first individual title and second straight by a sophomore from Blake.
“I wanted to come here and execute on every shot. I didn’t really have a score in my mind,” Hitchner said Wednesday. “I tried to take it one shot at a time and make birdie whenever I had the chance. “It was nerve-wracking to know that I was in a leading position but it helped to have [coach Marshall Hoiness] walk with me and calm me down in that respect.
“After making double-bogey I hit a couple good iron shots, which kind of reassured me that I could still shoot a solid round and then I made a couple of birdies coming in. It feels good—it probably hasn’t set in yet, but it will in the next couple of days. I have a lot of golf coming up and it’s a good start to the summer; it definitely gives me confidence that I can shoot that low round.”
Junior Ian Murray also played a big role in Blake’s second straight title Wednesday as he opened with a 72 before finishing with a 78 to place 10th at 150.
Defending individual champion Reece Sanders, who won the title as a sophomore last year, finished tied for 18th at 153 following a final-round 75.
“We finished strong and I’m very proud of these boys,” Blake head coach Marshall Hoiness said Wednesday. “I say it every time, but they don’t quit. Obviously [Hitchner] was key, but even Reece, who didn’t have his best stuff, finished strong. Ian [Murray’s] round of 72 this morning was huge and we got a big round from Campbell Morrison who shot 3-under on the front and 5-over on the back for a 75, which was huge.”
Holy Family Catholic School finished 15 shots back of Breck at 604, while Minnewaska and Hermantown tied for third place at 614.
Holy Family’s Alex Wilson finished the championship in second place at 1-over par 145, two shots clear of Drew O’Hern (St. Paul Academy), Esten Stensrud (Minnewaska) and Cecil Belisle (Red Wing), who finished tied for third at 147.
2016 MINNESOTA STATE BOYS’ CLASS AA CHAMPIONSHIP
RIDGES AT SAND CREEK
6,657 YARDS, PAR 72
FINAL TEAM RESULTS
1. Blake, 292-297—589
2. Holy Family, 300-304—604
T3. Minnewaska, 302-312—614
T3. Hermantown, 303-311—614
5. Detroit Lakes, 309-311—620
6. Becker, 318-324—642
7. Rochester Lourdes, 324-328—652
8. Albert Lea, 333-333—666
FINAL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
1. Derek Hitchner, Blake, 65-69—134
2. Alex Wilson, Holy Family, 70-75—145
T3. Drew O'Hern, St. Paul Academy, 76-71—147
T3. Esten Stensrud, Minnewaska, 72-75—147
T3. Cecil Belisle, Red Wing 74-73—147
T6. Alex Syverson, Albert Lea, 72-76—148
T6. Paul Stankey, Providence Academy, 73-75—148
T8. Dylan Kolquist, Hermantown, 76-73—149
T8. Lincoln Cizek, Holy Family, 74-75—149
10. Ian Murray, Blake, 72-78—150
For complete tournament results go to: www.mshsl.org/mshsl/golfscores.asp?gender=Boys&class=AA