Now a Professional, VanArragon Collects First Win at Twin Cities Open

May 21, 2024 | 5 min.
By Nick Hunter

  PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – Following a record-breaking 2023 season, former Valparaiso University golfer Caleb VanArragon continued his run of remarkable play into the 2024 season this week, carding an 11-under 133 to earn a three-stroke victory at the Twin Cities Open Tuesday at The Meadows at Mystic Lake.

The defending Minnesota State Open and Minnesota Golf Association Amateur champion erased an early two-stroke deficit during the final round by firing a bogey-free 6-under 67 to claim his first victory in his first event as a professional.

"It still hasn’t sunk in yet that I'm a pro—it’s such an abrupt transition,” VanArragon said. “The last four years have kind of been the same way in college golf, playing as a team for coaches to amateur golf in the summer where it’s a bit of an adjustment.

“Having that on my mind while I’m hitting shots is a challenge. There is money on the line now, and I’ve never played that way before. That’s something every new pro experiences, I guess."

VanArragon rolled in his first birdie of the final round at the par-4 fourth to move to 7-under for the championship, and would take the outright lead at the sixth following back-to-back double-bogeys by first-round leader Bryce Hanstad.

Sinking his birdie chance from 20 feet at the par-3 seventh, VanArragon extended his lead to three at 8-under for the tournament.

After a two-putt birdie from 50 feet at the 10th, VanArragon began to pull away from the field by converting his birdie look from six feet at the 14th. He tallied one final birdie at the 16th when his approach stopped four feet from the hole.

A two-putt par at the last gave VanArragon his fifth state victory in four seasons.

“My driver was solid this week—I was never really in any trouble,” said VanArragon. “My irons were good for the most part. I think I hit about 16 greens, which is pretty good for this course. The greens aren’t generally that big, especially with the par-3s.

“This was a good tournament to start out my career [as a professional].”

VanArragon fired a 6-under 66 to begin the tournament Monday, sitting two shots back of 18-hole leader Bryce Hanstad, who finished second behind VanArragon at the MGA Amateur last season.

“I was happy with the round yesterday and finished with three birdies in a row,” VanArragon said. “I had two bogeys on six and seven, but I was happy with the way I was able to stay positive and focus on the shot ahead of me.

“[Hanstad] played such a great round yesterday; I can’t be too upset about shooting 66.”

Shattering the modern scoring record at Valparaiso, VanArragon will go down as the greatest men’s golfer in program history. But as his collegiate career draws to a close, the 22-year-old has little time to take his next step.

“I got done with regionals on Wednesday—so it was a pretty quick transition for sure,” said VanArragon,” who shot 1-over 217 at the NCAA Division I Lafayette Regional to finish tied for 23rd at his final collegiate event.

“I didn’t really know what to expect mentally this week because it’s a lot different playing for money than playing to win tournaments."

VanArragon will now travel to Garland, Texas, attempting to qualify for the PGA Tour Americas Monday at Firewheel Golf Park before competing in the ‘Longest Day in Golf’ June 3 at Final Qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Open.

VanArragon became the first player since James McLean in 1998 to win both the Minnesota State Open and MGA Amateur Championship in the same season.

With one state victory already to his credit, VanArragon bettered the field by nine strokes at the Minnesota State Open at Oak Ridge Country Club last July.

He then broke the MGA Amateur scoring record by shooting 23-under 193 for a 12-stroke victory at Minneapolis Golf Club a week later.

Sklebar, a professional from Fargo, N.D., climbed the leaderboard in a hurry Tuesday, carding six birdies over a nine-hole stretch mid-round to join VanArragon in the lead at 9-under with four holes to play.

But back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th proved fatal for the 28-year-old as he slipped to 7-under for the championship.

He rebounded by converting a birdie chance at the 17th to finish three shots back of VanArragon at 8-under 136.

Following an opening-round 67 Monday, former North Dakota State University golfer Nate Adams carded a 2-under 70 during Tuesday’s final round to claim low-amateur honors in third place at 7-under 137.

Adams played his first 11 holes of the final round in even par before dropping back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th to pull within two shots of the lead.

He would bogey the par-3 14th but finished on a high note with a birdie at the last for a final-round 70.

7,135 YARDS, PAR 72


1. Caleb VanArragon (p), Bunker Hills GC, 66-67—133
2. Zach Sklebar (p), Edgewood Muni GC, 68-68—136
3. Nate Adams, Rush Creek GC, 67-70—137
T4. Ryan Conn, Alexandria GC, 69-69—138
T4. Bryce Hanstad, Olympic Hills GC, 64-74—138
T6. Wes Buntenbach (p), Medina G&CC, 73-67—140
T6. Alex Kline (p), Kilkarney Hills GC, 71-69—140
T6. Andrew Israelson (p), 68-72—140
T9. Jack Johnson, Chaska TC, 74-67—141
T9. Samuel Baker, Cloquet CC, 70-71—141
T9. Jack Hiemenz (p), Victory Links GC, 68-73—141

For complete tournament results go to:


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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