Minnesota Golf Association

Gopher Frazzini Medals; Former Gophers Constable and Rachey and Two More Minnesotans on to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying

May 16, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – Helped by a flurry of birdies during his opening nine Wednesday at the Wilds Golf Club, University of Minnesota golfer Ben Frazzini turned in a near flawless scorecard, posting a 5-under par 67 to earn medalist honors and advance to the second stage of qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Open.
A field of 71 players competed for five qualifying positions in hopes of moving on to sectional qualifying for the national championship, which will take place June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.  
“Today felt really good and I was really please with the way I struck the ball,” Frazzini said following his round Wednesday. “I was coming in expecting to play well; I set pretty high expectations for myself.
“This would be awesome to move on. I know I have the game to go pretty low and I think I could’ve shot lower than 67 today, but I’d love to go give it a chance [at sectional qualifying]. It’s every kid’s dream to play in the U.S. Open.”
Teeing off in the first group on the 10th tee Wednesday, Frazzini’s game showed little signs of rust being his first tournament action of the season. Hitting 12 fairways and 17 greens, he reached both par-5’s in two for easy two-putt birdies. At the 14th, Frazzini knocked his approach inside of four feet and rolled in a six-footer at the 18th to turn at 4-under.
Missing the second green with a 6-iron, Frazzini bounced back by chipping inside of three feet to card his fifth birdie of the round before taking a step back with a bogey at the fifth. In control of his irons and distance most of the day, Frazzini’s approach on the final hole stopped six feet from the pin and converted birdie to post a 67, advancing from a USGA qualifier for the first time.
“Off the tee I was fantastic today. I was driving it really straight and had a lot of wedges into the greens, which made it a lot easier to go at pins,” he said.
“I’ve been practicing a lot every day and certainly my work ethic stayed the same, but I’m itching to get back into some tournament play. I take a lot of confidence from today moving on to the next stage against a field like that and especially moving toward the Gophers season next year. I want to be as prepared as possible.”
Frazzini, who played his high school golf at Wayzata High School, played in the Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm last fall as an individual, but redshirted the rest of the 2017-18 season.
Playing his first six holes at 1-over par Wednesday, Max Tylke found his groove mid-round by carding four birdies in a six-hole span to quickly jump to 3-under par for the day. Hitting the top of the pin at the par-5 17th with his approach, Tylke rolled in a four-footer for birdie to post a 4-under par 68 to earn the second qualifying position.
“The goal was to play six-hole increments in 1-under or better,” Tylke said of his philosophy Wednesday. “I thought if I was [3-under] or better that I would have a chance.
“I got off to an awful start—that could’ve been [a double bogey at No. 2], so making bogey was a bonus and that’s what kicked it up. From there things calmed down and I coasted in and hit a lot of greens. My irons were spot on and I hit a lot of them on line until I got a wedge in my hand.”
Tylke, from Rosemount, Minn., qualified for the U.S. Public Links Championship in 2013 and qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship in North Dakota last July. He would go on to shoot rounds of 76 and 79, respectively, at both Riviera and Bel-Air Country Clubs to miss the cut for match play by 11 shots.
“[Qualifying] would be a chance to play against golfers who have been there and been around it and test your game and find out a lot more about yourself at a course like that,” Tylke said. “You can’t ask for more confidence-wise, knowing you can play on the toughest set ups and golf of your life.”
Former Gophers Donald Constable and Matt Rachey finished in a five-way tie with Wayzata, Minn., native Dan Lensing, Michael Schmitz and Canadian Aaron Cockerill after all five posted rounds of 3-under par 72.
Lensing two-putted for par from 10 feet on the first playoff hole, while Constable flopped his third from over the green to save par to clinch the next two qualifying spots after Rachey, Schmitz and Cockerill carded bogey.
Lensing, a redshirt junior at Bradley University in Illinois, suffered an injury shortly before the Braves earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional in Bryan, Texas by winning the Missouri Valley Conference title.
“It spurred me on a little bit today with the team being down in Texas to do something on my own,” Lensing said Wednesday. “I’ve played in a few qualifiers, but this is really big. I’ve always wanted to get to the next level, but the U.S. Open would be unbelievable.
“It was a steady round—I only short-sided myself one time and two-putted most greens and I was able to take advantage of the par-5’s.”  
Lensing, who played golf at Orono High School, played his front nine at 1-under with a pair of birdies and one bogey before rolling in two more birdies over his final nine holes to shoot 69.
Getting up-and-down for par on the third playoff hole Wednesday, Rachey would earn the final qualifying spot.
Cockerill, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Schmitz, of Bloomington, Minn., finished as first and second alternates, respectively.

Download Full Results: The Wilds Qualifier Scoring Report.pdf

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