Minnesota Golf Association

Hall and Hicks Pull Off Huge Comeback to Claim MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship

July 22, 2020

By Nick Hunter
  HASTINGS, Minn. – Entering the final round of the 30th Minnesota Golf Association Mixed Amateur Team Championship facing a seven-stroke deficit Wednesday, University of South Dakota golfers Julia Hall and Ben Hicks put together one of the best rounds in tournament history to come from behind and claim a one-stroke victory at Hastings Golf Club.
The twosome needed three late birdies on their back nine Tuesday to open the championship with a round of 2-under 70, finishing in a tie for eighth. When the tournament resumed Wednesday, Hall and Hicks carded five birdies and a pair of eagles through 17 holes before Hall hit her tee shot on the final hole inside of two feet to set up one final birdie to edge the team of Taylor Ledwein and Alex Schmitz with a final-round 10-under 62.
“We did our best to enjoy the week. Obviously, it’s a tournament and we want to play well and put pressure on ourselves, but we wanted to have fun with it and enjoy our time out here,” Hicks said Wednesday. “I think this gives us confidence going into the next tournaments we play in this summer and into the college season as well.
“Yesterday we started with a bogey and couldn’t really get our putting together—we weren’t playing as a team as much as we were today,” Hall added. “It didn’t really occur to me that we were going to win, but we were a little more relaxed and I felt like we had nothing to lose. We tried to put our best foot forward and we really did today. We’re good friends, so it works well for us and we keep each other’s spirits up.”
Switching from the Four-Ball format during the opening round Tuesday to an alternate shot format for the final 18 holes gave Hall and Hicks the jumpstart they needed early in the round Wednesday.
Teeing off on the 10th hole Wednesday, the two carded three birdies over the first four holes and turned in 6-under 30 with the help of one of two eagles on the day, moving to within one shot of the lead at 8-under for the championship.
“I really like the Modified Chapman and I think it really plays to my strength because I hit it far,” Hall said. “I left my partner with a wedge almost every time. After the eagle [at No. 16] it was go-time; there was nothing that was in our way. We had to make up strokes from the day before.”
“It’s great when you have a woman who can hit it 275 yards, I love hitting wedges and love hitting irons,” said Hicks. “It helps when you have 175 yards in on par-5’s and a flip-wedge on every par-4. I’m trying to give her an opportunity to hit the green with my tee shot, so when she gets to the green, I can go at pins that are tucked.
“I had one score count on the front nine yesterday, so she carried us,” Hicks added. “Today I said let’s just get back inside the top-3 and we went 30 on our front nine. From there we know what we can do.”
Much like she did during the opening nine the day before, Hall took control when she pasted her second shot from 245 yards at the par-5 third and watched her ball stop 10 feet from the cup before Hicks rolled in his team’s second eagle of the round to put them into the lead at 10-under.
At the par-5 seventh, Hall hit her approach inside of a foot for a tap-in birdie and would do the same on the final hole at the par-3 ninth, sticking her tee shot for a kick-in birdie to guide the team to a round of 10-under 62 for a 36-hole tally of 12-under 132.
“We didn’t want to look at the leaderboard—we knew we were playing well, but it wasn’t going to change the way we were going to play. It would just put something else in our heads that we don’t really need,” said Hicks.
Wednesday’s win is the first state victory for both Hall and Hicks. Hall, a six-year letter winner at Hopkins High School, will be a redshirt junior for the Coyotes this fall. At South Dakota, she’s competed in 13 events with her best finish coming last September where she placed sixth at the Loyola Fall Invite. She was named Summit League Golfer to Watch.
A Chanhassen High School graduate who was named a Mr. Minnesota Golf finalist following his senior season, Hicks will begin his junior season for South Dakota later this year. Playing in 13 collegiate events, he’s placed inside the top-20 three times with his best coming during his freshman campaign, a top-10 finish at the Zach Johnson Invitational.
Ledwein and Schmitz, who began the final round six shots off the lead and one better than Hall and Hicks, got off to a hot start during their opening nine Wednesday, turning in 8-under for the championship by carding five birdies.
Carrying momentum to the final nine holes, Ledwein and Schmitz carded back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to earn a share of the lead at 10-under before taking a step back with their first bogey of the round at the fifth.

The two bounced back into contention by making an eagle at the par-5 seventh, but fell one shot short after Schmitz’s birdie chance from the left fringe curled around the cup on the final hole to post an 8-under 64 to finish second at 133.
Following a round of 1-over 73 to begin the championship Tuesday, the team of Charles Cavanagh and Jane Grove fired a 1-under 71 during the final round of competition Wednesday to earn a two-stroke victory in the Senior Division at even par 144.

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