Minnesota Golf Association

Simonich Eyeing Back-to-back Titles at Minnesota State Junior Boys' Championship

July 27, 2020

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – In the 93 years the Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship has been contested, only four players have successfully defended their titles. Defending champion and 2019 Minnesota Golf Association Junior Boys’ Co-Player of the Year Ian Simonich has put himself in position to become the fifth as he posted a 7-under 64 Monday during the opening round of play at Detroit Country Club.
 
Simonich, who served as a caddy for his father at the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament when he was younger, carded five birdies and an eagle over his first 10 holes Monday to grab a three-stroke lead over Samuel Baker ahead of Tuesday’s final round.
 
“I grew up watching the Pine to Palm and I’m a member at [Detroit Country Club]—we have a cabin about 20 minutes away, so we come down and play on the weekend a lot,” Simonich said Monday. “I’m very familiar with the course, so my expectations are pretty high coming into the week. I’ve played well there all year and played good there last week, so expectations were high, but not 7-under.
 
“Birdies on the first two holes is always a nice start, especially if you can take advantage of one. When I was 4-under through five and then had a putt to go 6-under through six, I knew it was going to be a good day.”
 
Simonich had a pair of tap-ins to start his round Monday before knocking his approach from 190 yards at the par-5 fifth to six feet and converted his eagle to quickly find the top of the leaderboard at 4-under for his round. He drove the ensuing green and narrowly carded his second consecutive eagle, but settled for yet another tap-in birdie.
 
Sinking his birdie chance from 45 feet at the par-4 ninth, Simonich turned at 6-under and would roll in his final birdie of the day from six feet at the 10th before rattling off consecutive pars to finish the opening round of competition with a bogey-free 64.
 
“I’m going to stick to the same game plan—be aggressive when I can and trust my driver,” Simonich said. “Hopefully I can get some putts to fall like they did today. A lot of it was mental confidence today. Knowing it’s a course I can play well on and I’m familiar with, I can take advantage of that and play a little differently than some of the guys who haven’t played it.
 
“I plan to hit the same clubs off every tee and stay pretty aggressive, and who knows, if I’m down I might change it, but I’m going to stick to the same game plan.”
 
Simonich went wire-to-wire at last year’s championship at Pioneer Creek Golf Course, edging Nate Adams and Brock Winter by one stroke by carding a 7-under 137. He'd become the first player to repeat at the championship since Bill Israelson won in 1973 and 1974.

A North Dakota State University commit who’ll begin his senior year at Moorhead High School later this year, Simonich earned medalist honors at the 2019 MGA Junior Team Championship, leading his team to the team title as well. For his efforts last season, Simonich earned a share of player of the year honors with Red Wing High School graduate Cecil Belisle.
 
Baker carded three birdies and a bogey on each of his nines Monday to sit three shots back of Simonich at 67, while Dayne Mann birdied three of his first holes before playing his final 14 at even par to finish the first 18 holes of play in third place at 3-under 68.
 
The 94th Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship concludes Tuesday with final-round tee times beginning at 7 a.m. at Detroit Country Club.
 


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