Simonich and Wedin Lead the Way at 59th MGA Junior Team Championship in Owatonna

August 13, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  OWATONNA, Minn. – Walking to the 18th tee Tuesday, Ian Simonich figured he needed birdie on his 36th hole to win his second championship of the season. Simonich’s tee shot at the 177-yard par-3 nearly bounced in the hole, spinning to a stop six inches from the cup, leaving a tap-in birdie as Simonich claimed a one-stroke victory while leading his foursome to the team title at the 59th Minnesota Golf Association Junior Team Championship at Owatonna Country Club.
Carding an even par 71 Monday to begin the championship, Simonich entered the final round four shots off Carter Doose’s lead and erased the deficit with a string of birdies mid-round before claiming the championship on the final hole in spectacular fashion.
“I knew I wanted to shoot low and make [18-hole leader Carter Doose] shoot under par,” Simonich said following his win Tuesday. “After seeing the course once yesterday, I knew that the greens were pretty soft and you can putt fairly well on them and make a lot of birdies. My plan was to make him shoot under par to beat me.”
In a similar pressure situation early last month at the Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship at Pioneer Creek Golf Club, Simonich needed to hole his par putt from six feet to earn his first career state championship victory. His putt found the bottom of the cup to earn a one-stroke victory over both Nate Adams and Brock Winter.
“This is a little different from the [Minnesota State Junior Boys’], the field isn’t as big, but there are some really good players and I knew I had to play well,” he said. “Hitting that last shot felt really good.”
Playing his front nine at even par Tuesday, Simonich quickly gained momentum following his birdie at the 10th before sticking his tee shot at the par-3 11th to two inches. A two-putt birdie at the 12th would put him at 3-under for the tournament. Unable to save par at the 15th, Simonch fell back to 2-under before his tap-in birdie on the final hole to edge Gavin Cronkhite by one shot at 3-under 139.
“I wasn’t even supposed to play in this tournament until their teammate from last year backed out. They asked me to play and I jumped on the opportunity,” Simonich said. “I’ve never seen the course before, but was pretty happy with my round yesterday.  
“This format isn’t that different. I’ve played [varsity golf at Moorhead High School] for three years, but playing with your teammate is really comforting. If you’re playing well, you can feed off each other. These guys are all from [Section 8AAA], so we’ve got a pretty good section up there.”
Sladek contributed to the opening-round lead with a round of 73 Monday before carding one birdie with one bogey during the final round Tuesday, finishing the championship in sixth place at 2-over 144 to help secure the team victory.
“I struggled a little bit the first day and didn’t make many putts—grinded a lot and got up-and-down. Today I had my best ball-striking day of the whole year and couldn’t get many putts to drop,” Sladek said Tuesday. “Got one to drop on 18, but had 16 pars all day. It was pretty solid and I gave myself opportunities.
“Last year we came up a couple shots short. This year we all played solid and it means a lot.”
Logan Hamak also fired an even par 71 Tuesday in a winning effort, while Grant Rebrovich rounded out the team scoring by shooting a 7-over 78.
Led by Cronkhite, the defending champion team consisting of John Langlois, Tim Berger and Kaleb Johnson entered the final round four shots off the lead and couldn’t make up any ground Tuesday, combining for a round of 211 to finish five shots back at 433.  
The foursome of Mason Roloff, Jake Birdwell, Jack Wellen and Ben Wackman improved by 16 strokes during Tuesday’s final round, posting a combined score of 216 to finish in third place at 22-over 448.

Wedin Comes From Behind to Edge Chanhassen Teammate Hicks for Top Individual Honors
Firing the tournament low of 5-over 76 Tuesday, Courtney Wedin erased a slim deficit to slip past teammate Madi Hicks for a two-stroke victory, earning medalist honors at 13-over 155.
“Individually, it’s one of my last tournaments of the summer and finishing off my junior season strong,” Wedin said following her victory Tuesday. “For our team, it’s a nice, warm feeling that we won state this year and won this tournament last year. To win it again is really nice for us and Chanhassen.
“A lot of us girls always play in the same tournaments and we see each other at other tournaments, but coming here and knowing that we’re specifically a team and not playing for ourselves is special and being able to play with a teammate is really nice.”
Beginning her final round on the back nine Tuesday, Wedin turned in 3-over before carding three early bogeys during her back nine to slip to 14-over for the championship.
Rolling in a pair of late birdies helped Wedin to a round of 75 Tuesday and boosted her team to a 30-stroke victory over the foursome of Molly Albrecht, Taya Kwiatkowski, Francesca Otterson and Trinity Sundbom.
“This is a challenging course, so knowing which holes are par holes and which ones are birdie holes was definitely helpful and getting used to the greens today,” Wedin said. “I usually putt with the flagstick in all the time and today on the front nine I took it out for the first time in five weeks and made my put, so I figured I’d leave it out the rest of the round.
“Our team came in winning last year and knew we could win again and that was the mindset that we had.
Coming off a victory Friday at the Minnesota Junior PGA Girls’ Players’ Tour Tournament of Champions at St. Cloud Country Club, Hicks took the opening-lead at 7-over 78 Monday before posting a 79 during the final round to finish second at 157. Tricia Hemann helped the cause by posting an 84 Tuesday, while Emily Renner carded a 93.
The foursome of Jessie Smith, Julia Bevans, Jovie Ordahl and Kelsi Mauzy finished third at 68-over 352.


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