Minnesota Golf Association

Picking Up Where He Left Off, Holmgren Leads After Day One at MGA State Amateur at Somerby

July 15, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  BYRON, Minn. – Jumping out to an early lead worked well for Van Holmgren at last year’s Minnesota State Amateur Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club where he posted an opening-round 69, eventually going on to win by four strokes. Holmgren carded a 4-under 68 to lead the field once again following the opening round of play Monday at Somerby Golf Club.
The soon-to-be junior at North Dakota State University looks to become the 10th player to win back-to-back championships since the tournament began in 1901 and first since Tom Hoge successfully defended his title in 2010.
“I really just played consistent, no big numbers, which was the key,” Holmgren said after his round Monday. “Simple golf. I had nine holes of practice yesterday and tried to keep the ball in the fairway and middle of the green.
“I knew the greens were rolling about as fast as concrete. The greens are massive and they’re rolling really well, you just can’t lose sight of any speeds. If you get excited on a birdie putt and blow it by, you’re looking at 10 feet to save par. You’ve got to maintain a level head and be poised.”
Finding his stride early Monday, Holmgren sank a slider from 10 feet for birdie on the opening hole before rolling a 4-footer at the second to quickly move up the leaderboard. Another birdie at the par-4 ninth put Holmgren to the back nine at 3-under for the championship and he would add his fourth birdie of the day at the par-3 13th.
“The pedal was down, might as well keep pushing it down,” Holmgren said after turning in 3-under. “[The back nine] didn’t go exactly how I planned—I lost a few tee shots off in the rough.”
The only blemish on the scorecard for Holmgren came at the par-3 17th, but he bounced back by tapping in for a short birdie after hitting his second over the green at the par-5 18th.
“Being defending champion means that I want it that much more,” Holmgren said. “I know that I’ve just got to beat the course. Rounds one and two I want to figure out how to play the greens and stay with it and play good golf. That third round is where the numbers get low and attack the course.
“My body feels good and my irons have felt really good lately. I’m in a good spot, coming in with a neutral perspective, knowing I’m hitting the ball well.”
Posting a 2-under par 70 during Monday’s opening round, Jesse Larson will begin play Tuesday two shots back of Van Holmgren as Larson is in search of his first victory since pairing up with Jordan Hawkinson to win the MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2013.
“Overall, it was a solid, mostly stress-free round,” Larson said Monday. “With the wind blowing my game plan was to play away from many of the hole locations, rely on my lag putting, and hopefully take advantage of any shots that finished close to the hole.
“I hit 15 greens, had a lot of birdie looks from 20-25 feet, and made a lot of two-putt pars. It was nice to take advantage of holes nine and 12 playing downwind and make birdie on those.”
Starting his opening round on the 10th tee Monday, Larson carded back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th holes to quickly move to 2-under and kept his momentum going by getting up-and-down for par from the sand at the 16th.
Larson took a step back with bogey at the par-3 17th, but would make nine consecutive pars before a birdie on his final hole of the round put him into second place at 2-under 70.
Ian Simonich, who claimed victory at the Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship two weeks ago at Pioneer Creek Golf Club, fired a 1-under par 71 Monday and will begin his second round in a four-way tie for third with MGA Players’ champion Andrew Israelson, Joe Conzemius and Clay Kucera.
Following Tuesday’s action, the field will be cut to the top-60 players, plus ties, for the final round Wednesday.
The 116th MGA State Amateur Championship continues Tuesday when the second round begins at 7:30 a.m. at Somerby Golf Club.

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