From the Minnesota Golf Association
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (July 21, 2014) – For the seventh time since 1922, the Golden Valley Golf and Country Club is playing host to the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship and despite humid temperatures and breezy conditions during the opening round Monday, the course surrendered a handful of low scores.
Erik Christopherson carded a 4-under par 68 to take the early lead in the clubhouse Monday during the first round of the 111th championship, while Jesse Bull, Troy Johnson and Dan Lensing each finished the day tied for second place at 69.
Christopherson, Baker National Golf Club, quickly dipped into red numbers with a birdie to open the tournament, but with bogeys on the fourth and eighth holes, Christopherson finished the opening nine at 1-over par 38.
As the temperature continued to get warmer, Christopherson’s game did the same as he rolled in five birdies on the final nine holes to shoot 5-under par 30, and finished the first day of competition at 4-under par 68.
“The front side was a little hesitant to get going; I missed a couple of Shorty Georges,” Christopherson said. “I birdied the first hole, but the stretch from 2 through 8 was a little squirrely.”
Christopherson rolled in three consecutive birdies to begin the back nine and quickly jump to 2-under for the day.
He hit a 6-iron into the 10th green and would two-putt for birdie and after his tee shot went long on the 173-yard, par-3 11th, he chipped in from 12 feet for a second consecutive birdie.
He would make his third straight birdie on the 12th hole after putting his approach close from 80-yards out. With a long and winding 40-foot birdie on the 16th hole, he got to 3-under for the day before rolling in one final birdie on the 18th to finish at 4-under.
“It was fun shooting a 30 on the back,” Christopherson said following his round Monday. “Anytime you birdie three in a row you get some momentum going.”
Christopherson said the key to him scoring well will be keeping the ball in the fairway and avoiding the deep, greenside bunkers throughout the course.
“These bunkers are diabolical,” he said. “I flew it in the front right bunker on 4 right up against the lip. It’s a short 335-yard par-4 and I made bogey so you need to take your medicine out of the bunker.”
“I thought the course is really fair and it’s set up well,” Christopherson added. “I played out here about 10 days ago and the pace of the greens is about the same, but today the pins are tougher. There is a lot of slope but it’s doable.”
Bull, Golden Valley Golf and Country Club, began his round on the 10th hole and with a bogey on the 13th fell to 1-over for the day.
He rolled in a birdie on the 16th hole and would make the turn at even par 35 before starting with back-to-back birdies on the first and second holes to quickly drop to 2-under.
Bull missed his par putt on the third to give away a stroke but would finish strong with a pair of birdies on the sixth and eighth holes to finish his round at 3-under par 69.
Fairways and greens were the key to Bull’s score as he hit 17 greens during his round Monday.
“I had some pretty good putts today and didn’t leave myself in any terrible spots. Yeah, I have home-course knowledge but you still have to hit the ball,” he said. “I had a lot of two-putts, but overall it was a good, solid round.”
“I think the greens are a hair quicker than they normally play, but they’re receptive and they’re holding and that is a huge deal for this course,” Bull said. “There are a lot of false fronts—when it’s firm, you need to be aware of where you’re hitting it.”
Johnson, Rush Creek Golf Club, got off to a slow start with bogeys on the third and fifth holes to quickly fall to 2-over, but rallied with two birdies to finish the front nine at even par 37.
The 2014 MGA Mid-Players’ champion rolled in back-to-back birdies to start the final nine holes to get to 2-under on the day and added another at the 16th.
A bogey on the 17th put Johnson back to 2-under, but he would finish strong with his sixth birdie of the day on the final hole to card a 69 and will begin Tuesday’s second round one shot off the lead.
Lensing, Windsong Farm, was the only player from the afternoon swing of tee times to shoot below par as temperatures reached into the mid-90s and winds seemed to play more of a factor.
Lensing, teeing off on No. 10, had a rocky start to the round with three birdies and three bogeys over the first six holes, but remained even par through his opening nine holes.
On his back nine, Lensing dropped a birdie on the first but again followed it with his fourth bogey of the day to stay even. Lensing eventually put his troubles behind him with back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth holes and added one last birdie on the seventh, finishing the day at 3-under par 69.
Jacques Wilson, Chaska Town Course, and Ben Greve, Minneapolis Golf Club, finished the opening round tied for fifth at 1-under par 71 and will begin Tuesday’s second round three shots off the lead, while five players are tied at even par 72.
Golden Valley Golf and Country Club last hosted the event in 1992 when current PGA Tour player Tim Herron carded a 54-hole total of 209 to win the championship.
The second round of the 111th MGA Amateur Championship is set to get underway Tuesday with split tee times beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club in Golden Valley, Minn.
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