Morton Goes Wire-to-Wire for First State Victory at Minnesota State Junior Girls' Championship

June 27, 2024 | 4 min.
By Nick Hunter

  BLAINE, Minn. – Posting three consecutive rounds below par this week, recent Maple Grove High School graduate and incoming University of St. Thomas freshman Amelia Morton cruised to her first state championship Thursday, carding a final-round 70 at Victory Links Golf Course to win the 79th Minnesota State Junior Girls’ Championship.

Morton’s eight-stroke wire-to-wire win over Minnetonka junior Selena Wu on Thursday marks the largest margin of victory since Samantha Sommers claimed a 14-stroke win in 2007 at Windsong Farm.

“This win makes me really happy and proud,” Morton laughed Thursday. “It’s crazy to think that I won it after being so little and playing in the First Flight so many times. It motivates me to keep going, knowing I can put three good scores together.

“I think I stayed patient this week—the front nine during the first round I couldn’t get anything to fall. Yesterday was windy, so I knew scores were going to be higher and par was going to be a good score."

Opening the championship with a 1-under 70, Morton then increased her lead by carding a 2-under 69 during Wednesday’s second round to take a sizeable seven-shot advantage to the final 18 holes of play.

“I was more focused on beating the golf course again,” Morton said. “I wasn’t trying to think about the other players and where they were. Just wanted to play my game.”

Getting off to a quick start during her final round, Morton converted a pair of birdie chances through seven holes before taking back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth holes to turn in 3-under for the championship.

She bounced back by capitalizing on her birdie look from eight feet at the 12th, but gave back a stroke with bogey at the 13th.

Unable to save par at the 16th, Morton dropped back to 2-under for the championship, but would stick her approach inside of four feet at the 17th for a tap-in birdie to get back to 3-under.

With the tournament well in hand, Morton rolled in one final birdie putt from 12 feet at the 18th to claim a resounding eight stroke victory over Wu at 4-under 209.

“Happy with my driver—I stayed in the fairway pretty well the first two days,” Morton said. “Struggled a little bit more today, but staying out of bunkers, the rough and thick fescue was big for me.”

Morton notched a third-place finish in 2021 at the Minnesota Public Golf Association Junior Public Links prior to her third-place finish at the Class AAA championship last June at Bunker Hills Golf Club.

After finishing fourth at the State Junior Girls’ Championship last year, Morton placed eighth at the Minnesota State Open at StoneRidge Golf Club.

Putting together a spectacular senior season for the Crimson, Morton was named finalist for the Ms. Minnesota Golf Award, and would go on to place second at the Class AAA championship, one shot back of medalist Carmen Jirele.

Runner-up a year ago, Wu posted an even par 71 during Tuesday’s opening round before carding a 4-over 75 during the second round to sit seven back of Morton with one round to play.

On Thursday, Wu played her first 13 holes in 3-over par before holing out her approach at the par-4 14th from 72 yards with her sand wedge for eagle to get to 5-over for the championship.

Stopping her approach inside of five feet at the 18th, Wu rolled in one final birdie to card an even par 71 to finish eight shots back in second place at 4-over 217.

“Yesterday and the day before I was putting well,” Wu said Thursday. “Not so much today, but I was hitting my drives mostly in the fairway, so I was able to hit more greens and have shorter putts.”

In 2023, Wu placed sixth at the Minnesota Junior PGA Championship before finishing runner-up to Olivia Salonek at the event last season at Hastings Golf Club.

Just four days later, Wu earned the first victory of her career by defeating Waverly Yang in a playoff to claim the MPGA Junior Public Links Championship at Oak Marsh Golf Course.

Earlier this season, Wu shot 78-84 to finish tied for 31st at the Class AAA championship at Bunker Hills.

Despite back-to-back bogeys to close out her final round Thursday, Wayzata junior Lauren Chambs posted a final-round 72 to place third at 6-over 219, 10 shots back of Morton.

Orono senior Ava Hanneman carded a 3-over 74 during Thursday’s final round to finish in a three-way tie for fourth with recent Sartell graduate Shayla Nordlund and Minnetonka sophomore Kieley Hanson at 8-over 221.

Beginning in 2025, the winner of the Minnesota State Junior Girls’ Championship will earn an exemption into the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur.

 

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter got his start covering sports for the Mankato Free Press while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

He then contributed to several online outlets, including Bleacher Report, prior to turning his focus to golf.

Hunter enters his 12th season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA website. He resides in New Prague with his wife and two sons.

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