Holmgren Shoots 69; Wins MN Am at Hazeltine
Van Holgren Following His 2018 MN Am Victory (MGA Photo)
Van Holgren Following His 2018 MN Am Victory (MGA Photo)

CHASKA, Minnesota (July 18, 2018) -- Entering Wednesday’s final round of the 115th Minnesota Golf Association State Amateur Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club two shots back of the lead, Van Holmgren knew his final-round score needed to start with a six.

Tapping in an inconsequential bogey on the 54th hole for his only blemish of the final round, Holmgren tied a tournament low by carding a 3-under par 69 Wednesday to earn a four-stroke victory, the largest margin at the event since Bryce Hanstad’s four-stroke victory over Clayton Rask the last time Hazeltine contested the championship in 2007.

“I was kind of nervous coming in this morning so I just wanted to get through the first few holes, catch my game and that’s exactly what I did. I made a few pars and then started to get hot,” Holmgren said Wednesday. “A level head really helped—I knew I was playing the course all day and starting off well really helped because I didn’t have to be too aggressive later in the round. That’s where errors will come, but it worked out nice.

“This gets me hungrier. I love the natural high of winning—it’s addictive and you want more and it’s going to get me out and practice harder to keep winning.”

Holmgren slammed in his birdie putt from 15 feet at the par-4 fifth to earn a share of the lead with Wilson after he sank a short birdie putt. He would take the outright lead for good after sticking his approach inside of three feet at the sixth.

In full command of his round Wednesday, Holmgren’s tee shot stopped inside of four feet at the par-3 eighth where he would convert his birdie look and extend his lead to three as he walked to the 10th tee.

Just short of the par-5 11th with his second shot, Holmgren paced himself from the field further by chipping to four feet and rolling in his birdie chance to get to 6-under for the championship, five shots ahead of both Wilson and Jesse Bull.

Asked how his nerves held up with a big lead late, Holmgren replied, “Nothing. I was in a zone and I was thinking of fairways, greens and making putts. I didn’t let much get into my head. I was really comfortable playing with [Wilson] and [Bull]; they are really competitive and really good players. I knew the tournament was mine if I played well and beat the course, and I think I did that.”

Facing very little trouble during his final round Wednesday, Holmgren’s most impressive up-and-down save came at the par-3 17th after his tee shot landed short and left of the green. He chipped within two feet to take a sizeable lead to the final hole.

With a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Holmgren earned a four-shot victory over Wilson and Bull for his biggest win to date and first since claiming the 2017 Class AAA individual title to bookend his senior season at Wayzata High School.

The biggest key for Holmgren en route to his victory at the lengthy and daunting course was his play off the tee, where he would hit 36 of 42 fairways this week.

“Starting off the hole in the right area—the rough here will kill you and I stayed out of it. With tucked pins, my goal was middle of the green, but it all started by hitting fairways.”

Holmgren, a 19-year-old who will enter his sophomore season at North Dakota State University this fall, grew up around golf, constantly pushed by his siblings. Older brother and teammate, Will, who will be a senior for the Bison this fall, finished in a tie for 10th Wednesday. Oldest brother, Jack, recently graduated from the University of South Dakota after beginning his collegiate golf career at the University of Iowa.

“I get to chirp them over this,” Holmgren said of the sibling rivalry, “It puts me above them one more notch when we’re all home together.”

After carding back-to-back rounds of 70 to begin the championship and in search of his second MGA State Amateur victory in five years, Bull posted a final round 75 Wednesday to finish tied for second with Wilson at 1-under par 215.

“It was a great tournament and awesome to be out here. I was leading going into today and, being honest with myself, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” said Bull, who won the 2014 championship on his home course at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club. “I didn’t hit it great and couldn’t really go at pins like I wanted to and had to play a little cautious because my ball striking just wasn’t there.

“I’m frustrated with today, but I was not playing where [Holmgren and Wilson] were. Overall I did what I could and hung in there. Being there before helped and being there again will help next time. The first two days I did want I needed to do and Day Three, I didn’t.”

Also tying the tournament-low Wednesday, Ben Sigel’s round of 69 earned him a tie for fourth at even par 216 with 1995 champion Michael Christensen.

This week marked the fourth time the MGA State Amateur Championship was conducted at Hazeltine National Golf Club and first since Hanstad’s victory in 2007, shooting a 54-hole total of 217. Edina’s John Harris claimed the championship in 1987 with a score of 224 and Jim Archer won the first championship played at the site in 1965 when it was conducted as a match-play event, defeating Jim Hiniker, 3 and 2.

The 116th MGA State Amateur Championship will be played July 15-17 at Somerby Golf Club in Byron, Minn.

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ABOUT THE Minnesota Amateur

In 1901, the first Amateur Championship concluded the MGA's inaugural meeting at the Meadow Brook Club in Winona. Thus, the MGA began a tradition that has carried into the present day. The MGA Amateur is now one of the largest golfing events in the state. Nearly 900 people enter the championship every year. It takes more than a dozen qualifying sites around the state to accommodate the competitors. 54 hole stroke play championship.

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