(Concordia University (MN) Athletics Photo)
NORTH OAKS, MN (July 19, 2016) -- Following up his opening round of 63 Monday at the 113th Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship at North Oaks Golf Club, Alex Uloth fired a 1-under par 71 Tuesday, looking to become the first player to claim a wire-to-wire victory since Donald Constable’s win in 2011 at White Bear Yacht Club.
Uloth overcame an early string of bogeys Tuesday by rolling in four birdies over his final ten holes and will begin Wednesday’s final round with two former champions within striking distance. Trent Peterson, the 2009 champion, sits four strokes back at 137, while 1995 winner Michael Christensen is five shots off the lead at 138.
“Obviously it’s difficult to play so well two days in a row, you have to keep a good mindset and stay patient out there,” Uloth said after Wednesday’s second round. “I started my round today a little too conservative and got a little nervous early, which is easy to do.
“If I can go out there [tomorrow] and do it the same way I did today—I don’t think I need to shoot another 63, but if I can play pretty well again, I think I’ll be good. I just need to go out and be aggressive and stay confident.”
Picking up where he left off from Monday’s opening round of 63, Uloth rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the opening hole before making four consecutive bogeys to fall back to 5-under for the championship.
“I ran into some bogey problems,” Uloth smiled, “I actually hit the ball better today than I did yesterday, but had different situations where I misclubbed a few times and put myself in some bad positions on the green. With the pins today, it was a little bit tougher.”
Uloth, Crystal Lake Golf Club, bounced back by converting his birdie look at the par-5 ninth before rolling in three birdies over his first five holes on the back nine. After his tee shot at the par-3 11th stopped 20 feet right of the flag, Uloth’s birdie putt found the cup to get back to 7-under for the tournament.
Sticking his approach inside of three feet at the 13th and rolling his birdie chance, Uloth’s approach from the left rough at the 14th rolled to three inches for an easy tap-in birdie, moving to 1-under for the round.
Over the final four holes, Uloth made consecutive two-putt pars to finish the first 36 holes at 9-under 133 and will carry a four-shot lead to the final 18 Wednesday.
“The wind was definitely a factor today; it’s spotty out there when you’re playing in the trees and it was tough to judge. The first few holes I misjudged some clubs, flew some greens and didn’t start off exactly how I wanted to,” Uloth said.
“The birdies at 13 and 14 were big—I stuffed a couple in there and hardly had to putt them and that was a big [momentum swing] and tried to cruise from there. The last few aren’t easy holes for me—they’re not comforting holes for me and I could’ve had a couple coming in, but didn’t get them to roll in,” he said.
Peterson, Valleywood Golf Course, puts himself in contention yet again after firing a 4-under par 67 during the second round Tuesday as Peterson has already collected three tournament victories in 2016.
Starting on the 10th tee Tuesday, Peterson rolled in his birdie chance on the opening hole but gave back a shot with a bogey at the 11th to remain at 1-under for the championship. He would roll six consecutive pars before carding four birdies over his next six holes to jump up the leaderboard to 4-under par for the championship.
A bogey at the par-4 seventh would stifle Peterson’s building momentum, but he would finish strong by rolling in his birdie opportunity on the final hole to shoot 67, sitting in second place with 18 holes to play.
“I made some putts today,” Peterson said Tuesday. “Yesterday I hit every green and only shot 1-under. Today I missed some greens, but at least I took advantage of some of my closer birdie putts. I thought the course was playing a lot harder—the wind was blowing, it wasn’t strong, but it was a club [difference] some times. Yesterday was dead calm, so a 63 was out there.
“Tomorrow I have to play well and [Uloth] may have to come back to me a little bit, but coming into the back nine on the last couple holes, if I need to make a birdie to get into it, I might get a little more aggressive but be smart of where I’m more aggressive.”
Christensen, Bunker Hills Golf Club, opened the championship with a 2-under par 69 Monday and started Tuesday’s second round by taking advantage of the par-5 first hole with a two-putt birdie before falling back to even for the round with a bogey at the third, failing to get up-and-down from the left greenside bunker.
Converting his birdie opportunity at the par-3 fifth hole from six feet, Christensen moved to 3-under for the tournament and added another birdie at the ninth, two-putting from the fringe.
Trading two bogeys with two birdies over the final nine holes, Christensen finished at 69 for the second consecutive round and will begin the final round in third place at 138.
“Even with a wedge in your hand, it’s tough to put yourself in a position to make birdie on any hole here,” Christensen said. “If you’re able to go at these greens in two and at least get by the green, then you feel like you can make birdie, but there’s no doubt, if you don’t take advantage of the par-5’s, it’s tough to score.
“I feel good about my game and it’s easy to put pressure on yourself and do too much. With the way the course was set, you have to play solid and not be too aggressive. I think I did a good job of letting the course come to me. This is why I signed up to play the event—to give myself a chance during the final round.”
University of Minnesota golfer Riley Johnson and 2014 runner-up Erik Christopherson finished the first 36 holes of play tied for fourth at 139, six shots back.
The 113th MGA Amateur Championship concludes Wednesday as tee times for the final round are scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. at North Oaks Golf Club.
ROUND ONE RECAP
-Editors Note: Story by Amateur Golf Staff
Alex Uloth got off to a quick start today at the Minnesota Amateur as he fired a first round 8-under 63. Ultoth will carry a four-stroke lead into Tuesday' second round at North Oaks Golf Club.
Beginning on the 10th hole Ultoth birdied his first two holes of the day before carding his only bogey on No. 15. The dropped shot didn't slow down the rising Concordia University (MN) junior's momentum as he birdied two of the final three holes on the side to turn in 3-under 32.
Now on the front side Ultoth started his second nine with a bang as he eagled the par-5 first hole. Following a run of pars Uloth finished a 5-under 31 closing nine with birdies on 6, 7 and 9.
Three players; Michael Schmitz, Taylor Sundbom and Erik Christopherson are all tied for second place after 4-under 67's.
Riley Johnson rounds out the top-5 after day one following a 3-under 68. A total of 16 players will begin the second round in red figures
View results for Minnesota Amateur Golf Championship