Sorenson Wins the MN PGA Championship for His Third Victory of the Year

August 29, 2023 | 5 min.
By Joseph Oberle

TOWER, Minn. – Jeff Sorenson from The Minikahda Club put together a near perfect round to outlast the field on his way to the Minnesota PGA Professional Championship at The Wilderness at Fortune Bay on August 29th. He started the day tied with Eric Chiles of Chaska Town Course and held a one stroke one Derek Stendahl from Rush Creek Golf Club, and the trio made a final group that offered great golf, some tiwsts and turns on the challenging course and, ultimately, a worthy champion.

“I won it two years ago, which was my first time in 11 years, and I had a lot of close calls since then, so it was nice to get it done,” Sorenson said.

From the jump, Sorenson set the tone with a birdie on the first (while Chiles and Stendahl parred), taking a lead he would not relinquish.

“That hole location I had actually never played before,” Sorenson said. “I am used to going up the left side of second shot but I went up the right side, had the perfect angle, used the slope and got off to a good start that was huge.”

He extended his lead on the difficult par 3 third hole, when he made par from the upper tier while Chiles and Stendahl putted from the lower tier and both made bogey.

“Making par on three was huge because that was a super tough hole today,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson played excellent golf all afternoon. His three birdies on the difficult front nine plus three more on the back (against just two bogeys on his round) propelled him to 4-under 67 which was the lowest round of the day. With a five-under round in Day 1, Sorenson finished at 9-under par, three shots clear of second-place finishers Stendahl and Chiles.

In 24 prior events this season, Sorenson had 23 top 25 finishes and 15 Top 10s—including two thirds, two seconds and victories at The Classic at Madden’s Pro-Am and the Resorters Pro-Am.

“I had been having a pretty good year overall, two wins, but I had kind of kept getting in my way a bit, not choking but stupid bogeys. I had a new swing change--a grip change that helped me a lot. I finally started trusting my swing a bit more and I putted pretty well, actually very well overall. I was elected this year to the Hall of Fame, which was really cool and that kind of gave me more confidence and trust.”

Sorenson seldom got out of sorts in his round, and when he did he made a good putt or great shot to right the ship. On the par four 7th, Chiles’ approach made it to the front of the green while Stendahl was in position for a birdie and Sorenson’s approach hung out to the right rough. Chiles made a lengthy lag to tap-in range for par. But he was upstaged by Sorenson who made a delicate chip over a mound that rolled into the cup for a birdie. When Stendahl missed his birdie putt, Sorenson’s lead bloomed to three shots.

“Before I hit I was just trying to land it in the right spot, but I thought, it’s just not going to break that much,” Sorenson said. “And when I hit it, I thought, ‘oh well, it’s going to be close’ and then it happened to go in, which was pretty cool.”

On hole nine, Sorenson went long with his approach while Chiles and Stendahl were below the with makeable birdies. Sorenson missed, while the other two birdies dropped and suddenly Sorenson’s lead was back to two strokes.

 The match was still tight when they reached the drivable par-4 13th, with Sorenson still nursing a two-shot lead over Stendahl and three-shot lead over Chiles. With the wind blowing hard off Lake Vermillion, all three players laid up, Sorenson and Chiles finding the fairway. But Stendahl’s ball caught a mound and kicked into the woods, where he had to take an unplayable and ultimately a bogey. Sorenson and Chiles made their birdie putts, and Chiles passed Stendahl into second place, still trailing the leader by three shots. The 13th hole proved to be pivotable for the remainder of the round.

“After I made a bogey on 11, I was a little, not out of sorts, but I lost a little momentum because I made a great birdie on 10,” Sorenson said. “That birdie on 13 kind got me back into [sync]. That definitely helped a lot.”

Stendahl, perhaps a bit rattled by 13, bogeyed 14 before making a valiant effort with birdies on the consecutive par 5s of 15 and 16, but Sorenson birdied 15, as well, and it helped him reach the 18th with a four-stroke lead.

“That birdie on 15 was huge,” Sorenson said.

With his victory, Sorenson qualifies and advances to the 2024 PGA Professional Championship to be held at the Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco (East & West Courses) in Frisco, Texas. He will be joined by Chiles and Stendahl who finished T-2 at 6 under par, Eddie Wynne (despite injuring his elbow early in the round) at 5-under, Eric Rolland from Augsburg College at four under, Matthew Sandquist from Edina Country Club and Thomas Campbell from Swing Lab Performance Golf at 3-under and Blake Lentner from Wayzata Country Club at 2-under par.

7,013, PAR 72

Bold denotes qualifiers

1. Jeff Sorenson, The Minikahda Club - 67-68--135
T2. Eric Chiles, Chaska Town Course - 67-71--138
T2. Derek Stendahl, Rush Creek Golf Club - 68-70--138
4. Eddie Wynne, Les Bolstad Golf Course - 68-71--139
5. Eric Rolland, Augsburg College - 71-69--140
T6. Matthew Sandquist, Edina Country Club - 72-69--141
T6. Thomas Campbell, Swing Lab Performance Golf - 70-71--141
8. Blake Lentner, Wayzata Country Club - 70-72--142
T9. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA Golf Club - 73-70--143
T9. Brent Snyder, Kilkarney Hills Golf Course - 72-71--143
T9. Bennett Smed, White Bear Yacht Club - 69-74--143

For full results, visit:

Joseph Oberle

Joe Oberle is an award-winning author, sportswriter, and has been the managing editor of Minnesota Golfer magazine since 2002. He’s covered the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL, Minnesota Twins and spent six seasons as publications manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he co-authored “Unstoppable: The Story of George Mikan.”

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