Minnesota Golf Association

Simonich Goes Wire-to-Wire at MN State Junior Boys' Championship to Claim First State Victory

July 3, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  MAPLE PLAIN, Minn. – Playing 30 holes of bogey-free golf this week at the 93rd Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship, Ian Simonich was cruising, leading the biggest tournament of his young golf career before the gravity of the situation began to set in late Wednesday at Pioneer Golf Club.
Simonich was unable to get up-and-down to save par at the par-3 13th, carding his first bogey of the championship and watched his lead slip to one over Brock Winter. But Simonich was saved by a 58-minute weather delay after hitting his tee shot at the 14th, when he was able to settle himself.
Despite a birdie at the 16th, Simonich’s lead remained one shot over Winter before Winter’s birdie putt on the final hole rolled wide of the cup. With six feet left for par, Simonich drilled his par putt to shoot a final-round 69 to claim a one-stroke victory at 7-under par 139 and win his first state golf championship.
“I started to feel the nerves and the pressure coming down the back nine today. I think I only hit one green on the back, so my putting really saved me today,” Simonich said after his win Wednesday. “After I hit my tee shot on 14 the horn sounded. I was able to reset, but I was eager to get back out there.
“This is easily the biggest win of my career. I had a really nice spring, but had a slow start to the summer. I just want to keep playing well and hopefully it’ll open more opportunities in the future.”
Simonich medaled in five of his eight events for Moorhead High School during the season, as well as winning the Section 8AAA individual title before placing 16th at the Class AAA Championship in mid-June, posting a tournament low during his final round.
Playing in his first Minnesota Golf Association event this week, Simonich took the opening-round lead with his round of 68 to lead by one over four players entering Wednesday’s final round.
“The game felt really nice, going bogey-free yesterday,” he said. “I knew I had a bunch of big guns behind me. I got off to a hot start and I figured if I could stick around—finishing tournaments has been an issue for me, but I was able to get this one done. I was finding a lot of tough up-and-downs—especially on 18. It felt good to knock that one in.”
Just off the green at the par-5 first, Simonich’s eagle putt stopped just short of the cup, leaving a tap-in birdie before he chipped in for birdie at the second to move to 6-under for the championship.
The first blemish of the week came at the par-3 13th hole where he missed a 20-footer for par. Following the weather delay, Simonich left his tee shot short of the par-4 16th. He chipped within five feet and converted his birdie putt to move to 7-under, carrying a one-stroke lead with two holes to play.
At the par-5 18th, a poor lie in the fairway forced Simonich to lay up, but he thinned a wedge over the green. His chip landed on the front edge of the green and rolled six feet past the flag, but he would sink his comebacker to earn a one-shot victory over Brock Winter and Nate Adams, who finished in a tie for second at 6-under 138.
Winter, who claimed the Class AAA individual title at Bunker Hills in June, had a rocky back nine to finish the opening round Tuesday, carding a pair of birdies against two bogeys, but was saved by an eagle at the 16th to enter the final round one shot off the lead with Adams, Ian Meyer and Jack Johnson.
A steady round Wednesday saw Winter card two early birdies before making one final birdie at the 16th to finish in a tie for second with Adams.
Adams rolled in three birdies with two bogeys on his card during the front nine Wednesday before making a charge with back-to-back birdies late. A par on the final hole gave Adams a final-round 69 for the second straight day, finishing at 6-under 138.
“I’m pretty happy –breaking 70 two rounds in a row, you can’t complain no matter what place you finish. The course was set up for a lot of birdies and I was just trying to find the fairway and hit as many greens as possible to give myself looks,” Adams said Wednesday. “I thought if I shot another sub-70 round, I’d have a chance to win, but you can’t really worry about what the other guys are doing.
“Hats off to [Simonich]. He made a lot of par putts, which were huge for him. That’s what you need to do to win tournaments.”
Defending champion Caleb VanArragon posted a final-round 67 Wednesday to finish in a tie for fourth with Meyer and Johnson at 5-under 139.

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