A Late Birdie Gives Cronkhite and Sperling the Win at MPGA Four-Ball

May 21, 2023
By Nick Hunter

  MONTICELLO, Minn. – A tap-in birdie on the final hole Sunday at Monticello Country Club secured a one-stroke victory for North Dakota State University golfer Gavin Cronkhite and Concordia University-St. Paul’s Brandon Sperling at the 46th Minnesota Public Golf Association Four-Ball Championship.

Cronkhite and Sperling, former teammates at Lakeville South High School, fired a 9-under 62 to begin the tournament Saturday, and followed it with a 65 Sunday to edge the team of Mike Christensen and Brian Moores.

“We kind of fed off each other. We found fairways when we needed to and did a good job of scrapping it out,” Cronkhite said following the round Sunday.

“We were making a lot of birdies the last couple of days and it was nice to get a couple on the card right away,” Sperling added. “We avoided bogeys today, worked well as a team and pieced it together.”

Cronkhite and Sperling got to work quickly during the final round Sunday, carding two birdies over their first four holes to reach 11-under for the championship.

Sperling converted his birdie chance from 20 feet at the par-3 10th before both Cronkhite and Sperling two-putted for birdie at the par-5 12th to move to 13-under.

Cronkhite chipped inside of four feet at the par-4 16th and made good on his birdie opportunity to put his team at 14-under.

Needing par at the last to force a playoff with Christensen and Moores, Cronkhite reached the par-5 18th in two, and tapped-in one final birdie to clinch the championship by shooting a final-round 6-under 65.

Sunday’s win for Cronkhite marks his third state victory, claiming the 2018 MPGA Junior Public Links Championship as well as being a member of the Minnesota Golf Association Junior Team Championship winning squad the same season.

“It was such a fun tournament—we don’t even get to play a ton together casually with our schedules, so it was great playing together these two days,” Cronkhite said. “This is the biggest [win] because we’re out of the junior ranks and there are a lot of great amateur players at a great course.”

Cronkhite finished his junior season at NDSU this spring, earning All-Summit League Second Team honors by notching four top-5 finishes in 12 events, while posting a scoring average of 73.77 for the season.

Sperling earns the first state championship of his amateur career Sunday, notching three top-10 finishes at state events since 2017.

“It’s great to get my first win and to do it with Gavin was a lot of fun,” Sperling said. “He really helped me out because he was hitting it straight when I wasn’t, and he played clutch down the stretch.”

A redshirt sophomore at Concordia-St. Paul, Sperling earned All-NSIC Second Team honors during his freshman season, claiming a pair of top-3 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the NSIC Championship last spring.

Christensen and Moores began the day three shots off the lead and the two got off to a fast start with back-to-back birdies to begin the final round.

Turning in 9-under for the championship, Christensen and Moores finished with a flurry of birdies, including three over the final three holes to finish one shot back at 14-under 128.

First-round co-leaders Jamie Quesnel and Max Tylke carded a 4-under 67 Sunday to place third, two shots back at 13-under 129.

Posting a final-round 65 Sunday, the twosome of J.T. Johnson and Jim Lehman claimed a two-stroke victory in the Senior Division, getting past the team of Tom Nordstrom and Mark Sperling.

Firing back-to-back rounds of 7-under 64, the team of Brian Orn and Brice Connor earned a three-stroke victory in the First Flight of the Net Division over the twosome of Jeff Goudy and Chris Hardie.

 

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter is entering his tenth season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA's website. He resides in New Prague with his wife, Amber, and two sons.

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