Same Course, Different Result, as Wanous Claims Medalist Honors in U.S. Junior Am Qualifying

June 21, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle

COON RAPIDS -- For Tyler Wanous, the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying at Bunker HIlls GC on Tuesday was kind of like a mulligan.

The Eastview junior concluded the 2022 high school seaon by playing in the Class AAA portion of the state tournament, at Bunker Hills, for the second year in a row. But it didn't go very well. 

"I've been working on some swing changes," he noted. 

When a golfer does that, it can take time to incorporate the changes into his (or her) game, and Wanous hadn't really worked things out yet by the time the tournament started. He wasn't hitting great shots to begin with, and his putter wasn't saving him. Every golfer knows how that goes. He shot 82 the first day, and things didn't really go any better the second, as he followed up with an 81. 

It wasn't exactly a great start to his summer. But Wanous got another crack at Bunker this week, and this time his re-configured swing was ready.

"I was practicing on Monday," he said,  "and something clicked."

Suddenly, the new swing was working, and it was working just as well on Tuesday. Playing the same Bunker Hills course, except a slightly longer version (6,971 yards for the Junior Am Qualifying vs. 6,886 for the state high school tournament), he made seven birdies and four bogeys on his way to a 4-under-par 68. That was better than the best round shot during the two days of the high school tournament, and it was also good enough to earn medalist honors for Wanous. 

"I was playing with more confidence today," he said afterward. "I also made a couple of putts early, and that helped."

One of them came at the 427-yard, par-4 first hole (No. 1 East), which he birdied. He also added birdie at the 385-yard, par-4 fifth. At the 535-yard, par-5 sixth, he couldn't reach the green in two, but he hit a wedge shot to 2 feet, and then he made his third birdie in a row -- and what was probably his best birdie of the day -- at the 220-yard, par-3 seventh.

The only blemish on his front nine was a bogey at the ninth (390 yards, par 4). He bogeyed the 428-yard, par-4 10th (No. 1 West), as well, but then he went on another birdie binge. Taking advantage of his length, he knocked his second shot onto the green at the 540-yard 11th, with a hybrid. He birdied the 373-yard, par-4 13th, too, and made his third birdie in four holes by hitting a 270-yard 3-wood shot to the green at the the 560-yard 14th.

He made two bogeys coming in, at the 15th (440 yards) the par-3 17th, but by then, it didn't matter. 

"I didn't really save any pars with my short game or my putting today," he said. "I just hit a lot of greens and made a bunch of birdies. It was fun."  

With his 68, Wanous got the first of the five spots available at Bunker for this year's U.S. Junior Am, which will be played at the iconic Bandon Dunes course in Bandon, Ore., July 25-30. 

Edina won the AAA team championship this year, and depth had a lot to do with that. The Hornets' depth was evident again on Tuesday. Jack Wetzel, who tied for first at the state tournament, shot 76, and missed the playoff for the last spot in the Junior Am by three, and his fellow senior Charlie Nasby, who tied for 14th in the state high school tournament, missed by two with a 75. Nevertheless, two Edina players, both underclassmen, qualified for Bandon Dunes.

Owen Nielsen, a junior, was one of them. He was the only player besides Wanous to break par on Tuesday, with a 70. His card was clean on the front nine, with a birdie at the 368-yard, par-3 second hole and no bogeys. He compensated for bogeys at the par-4 10th and par-3 17th holes with birdies at the par-5 11th and par-4 16th. 

The other Hornet who advanced, freshman Torger Ohe, had to work overtime to make his reservation for Bandon Dunes. He shot 73 and then won a playoff with Justin Luan of Woodbury for the last available spot. Playing the first three holes on the back (West) nine, they tied the 10th and the 11th. Both then hit gorgeous tee shots at the 195-yard, par-3 12th. Luan just missed his birdie putt from 15 feet. Ohe buried his putt from 12.

That makes Luan the first alternate.  

Northfield senior Nate Stevens was one of the two players who tied for first with Wetzel in the AAA individual standings last week. (The Minnesota State High School League doesn't have playoffs for first at its golf tournaments, even though the players and spectators overwhelming want them.) He was not, however, at Bunker this week. Most of the other players who finished in the top 18 were there, but only one of them was able to advance.

That was Mason Roloff, the Spring Lake Park senior who missed most of Minnesota's five-week high school golf season this year, after suffering an avulsion fracture (a small chunk of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main part of the bone during a pick-up basketball game). He came back at something less than full strength in time to play in sectional qualifying, and eventually finished sixth in AAA at the state tournement with a 145 (74-71).

On Tuesday, the long-hitting left-hander (he's really long even by modern high school standards) bogeyed the first hole, and parred the other eight on the front nine. Roloff, the only player to make the Junior Am last year who made it again this year, birdied both par 5's on the back nine, which enabled him to survive bogeys at the 15th and 18th and finish with a 72. He tied Sam Udovich for third.

Udovich was a freshman at St. Croix Lutheran this year, and he capped off the high school season by winning the Class AA individual title at Ridges at Sand Creek, with a 2-under 142 (71-71). 

A former National Drive, Chip & Putt champion who rarely misses fairways and averages roughly 300 yards in the air with his driver, Udovich uncharacteristically struggled on the par 5's Tuesday, playing them in 2 over. But he played the par 3's in even par and the par 4's in 1 under. 

His two bogeys at the par-5 sixth and par-5 14th notwithstanding, Udovich said he was better tee to green on Tuesday at Bunker than he was last week at Ridges.

"I made more putts last week," he said. "Today, I hit it a little better, but really didn't do much on the greens."

The runner-up in AA  last week was Southwest Christian junior Jacob Ferrin. He shot 34 on the front nine at Bunker on Tuesday but struggled on the back nine, finishing with a 74. That knocked him out of the top five and put him into a four-man playoff for second alternate -- with Anders Larson (Pine Island), Carver Larson (Alexandria) and Joseph Rohlwing (Apple Valley) -- which he won. 

2022 U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying

At Bunker Hills Golf Club

Par 71, 6,917 yards

Coon Rapids 

Top 5 finishers qualify for U.S. Junior Amateur, July 25-30 at Bandon Dunes GR, Bandon, Ore.

Final results 

1. Tyler Wanous, Eagan             68

2. Owen Nielsen, Edina              70

T3. Sam Udevich, Inver Grove   72

T3. Mason Roloff, Blaine            72

5. Torger Ohe, Edina                  73* (won playoff -- par, par, birdie 10, 11, 12)

Did not qualify

Justin Luan, Woodbury              73 first alternate

Jacob Ferrin, Excelsior              74 second alternate (won playoff)

Anders Larson, Pine Island        74

Carver Larson, , Alexandria        74

Joseph Rohlwing, Apple Valley   74

Charlie Nasby, Edina                   75

Karson Patton, Carlton                75

Rylin Petry, Fertile                        76

Ryan Jamieson, White Bear        76

Andrew Ballou, Victoria                76

Ezekiel Roberts, Lake Elmo         76

Peyton Coachran, Spicer              76

Luke Maas, Watertown                 76

Jack Wetzel, Edina                       76

Hogan Ordal, Lakeville                 76

Jacob Birdwell, Blaine                  76

Thomas Meader, Lake Elmo        76

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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