Minnesota Golf Association

Stevens & Boys AAA Pursuers Put on a Show

June 17, 2021


COON RAPIDS -- The large-school part of the state high school golf tournament was played at Bunker Hills for the first time in 1990, and Aaron Jacobson of Willmar won what was then the Class AA boys title with a 36-hole total of 152 (76-76). Four years later, Grand Rapids sophomore Mike Christensen set the scoring record with a 1-under-par aggregate of 143 (72-71). His cousin Mark Christensen, who played for Elk River, broke the record in 1997 with a 141 (73-68).

The next year, Mounds View's David bettered it with a pair of 70's and a 140.

In 2002, Eden Prairie's Scott Gustafson became the first player to break 140 at Bunker Hills. He followed a first-round 67 with a 72 for a 139. That remained the AAA boys record for nearly two decades, and Ben Sigel of Minnetonka was the only one to match it, with an identical 67-72--139 in 2016, by which time the large-school class was AAA.

Then along came Nate Stevens & Co. in 2021. 

Stevens, a junior at Northfield, has been the No. 1 player in the state all season, and he was on top the whole time this week at Bunker Hills, leading from start to finish. He made four birdies in his first nine holes on the way to an opening 68, which had him tied for first. On Wednesday, he reclaimed sole possession of the lead with a birdie on the first hole, and even though Minnetonka's Ian Meyer and Buffalo's Arthur Ylitalo kept throwing birdies at the scoreboard all afternoon, they couldn't catch Stevens. 

He managed to cling to a one-stroke lead by making a clutch par putt at the 17th hole. Then, needing only a par at the 18th to win the tournament, Stevens made a valedictory birdie with a 5-foot putt as he shattered the scoring record that Gustafson and Sigel had established. He  made seven birdies and one bogey while shooting a 6-under 66, giving him a two-day total of 134 and breaking the old record by five strokes. 

Meyer shot the lowest single-round score in the three decades that the tournament has been played at Bunker Hills, a 65, and he, too, broke the record with a 136. Ylitalo, who was playing in the same foursome as Stevens, finished with a 67 and claimed third place with a 137.

"I really wasn't paying any attention to what the groups ahead of us were doing," Steven said afterward. "Art was making a lot of birdies, and we were pretty much feeding off each other. It was fun."

There was no high school golf season in 2020. It, like so many other things, was a victim of the Covid 19 pandemic.

So the last time the state tournament was played was 2019. Brock Winter of Stillwater won the individual competition with a two-day tab of 143. Trey Fessler was one behind in second at 144.

Stevens, who was then a freshman, tied for ninth at 148. 

This year, the four guys who shot 148 tied for 17th. 

Logan Hamak, a senior at Sartell-St. Stephen, is the best measure of how low the scoring was this year. He shot 145 two years ago as a sophomore, and that put him in a tie for third. With the same 145 total this year (73-72), he tied for 11th.     

In 2018, Maple Grove won the team title with a 297-296--593. A year later, Edina reclaimed the crown, winning for the seventh time with 297-298--595.

On Wednesday, Maple Grove became the first team to shoot a one-day total under par -- 283 ( minus 5) -- as the Crimson overtook Edina and won with an overall 584, also a record. Edina was second at 600, and Eastview third at 607. 

Stevens doesn't think of himself as being a long-hitter, but he started his round with a 300-yard-plus drive and hit a lob wedge to 20 feet for his birdie at the first hole (No. 1 East). At the 464-yard, par-5 fourth, he hit a 7-iron second shot onto the green and two-putted for a birdie. The eighth hole (No. 8 East) is the longest hole on the course, at 440 yards, but it was only an 8 iron second shot for Stevens, who proceeded to make a 10-foot putt for the first of two birdies in a row. 

He birdied the ninth (378 yards, par 4) with another 300-plus drive, an 80-yard lob wedge and another 10-footer. 

Stevens made his only bogey of the day when he three-putted the par-3 12th (No. 3 West), but he got that one back on the next hole, the 347-yard 13th. His drive was about 310 yards, and it came up just short of the green. From there, he chipped to 5 feet and made the putt. 

Another flip wedge to 15 feet at the 427-yard 15th led to his sixth birdie, and kept him one ahead of Meyer, who had made a birdie right in front of Stevens. 

The 17th (No. 8 West) was playing 220 yards, slightly into the wind. Stevens hit a good tee shot with a rescue, but the ball trickled over the green into a less-than-great lie. The ball was just in front of an ant hill. He didn't hit his chip shot quite the way he wanted to and had a 10-foot putt left for his par. It looked good most of the way, then started sliding a way to the right, but it caught the edge of the cup and fell in. 

"I hit a good putt," he said, "and I thought I had made it. The last couple of feet, it was going at the edge, and that was concerning. But then it dropped."

Another 300 yard drive at the 18th left him 75 yards from the green, and still one stroke ahead of Meyer, who bogeyed the 17th but birdied the 18th, Stevens secured his victory by hitting a lob wedge that left him in a perfect position, putting slightly uphill from 5 feet. There was no way he was going to three-putt from there, and he needed only one putt. 


Minnesota State High School Tournament 

Class AAA 

Boys

At Bunker Hills Golf Course

Par 72, 6,698 yards

Final results


1. Nate Stevens, Northfield                 68-66--134

2. Ian Meyer, Minnetonka                    71-65--136

3. Arthur Ylitalo, Buffalo                       70-67--137

T4. Joe Kortan, Moorhead                   69-71--140

T4. Josh Galvin, Maple Grove             70-70--140

T4. Mason Roloff, Spring Lake Park     71-69--140

T7. Leo Gellert, Mankato West             73-68--141

T7. Carson Herron, Minnetonka           73-68--141

T7. Ian Simonich, Moorhead                 70-71--141

10. Danny Renner, Chanhassen           71-71--142

T11. Jack Wetzel, Edina                        68-77--145

T11. Kyler Schwamb, Farmington          70-75--145

T11. Logan Hamak, Sartell-St. Stephen 73-72--145

T11. Zach Roleau, Farmington               73-72--145


Teams

1. Maple Grove            301-283--584

2. Edina                       298-302--600

3. Eastview                  302-305--607

4. Farmington              306-303--609

5. Alexandria               304-309--613

6. Chaska                   305-310--615

7. Mahtomedi             318-314--632

8. Duluth East            348-322--670    
 


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