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Boys Golf: Israelson wins MN State Junior championship, Evans tied for eighth

WILLMAR--Scrambling most of his back nine during the final round of the 90th Minnesota State Junior Boys Championship, Andrew Israelson of The Vintage at Staples rolled in a late birdie and held on to defeat Ben Sigel of Windsong Farm by a single...

Andrew Israelson
Andrew Israelson

WILLMAR-Scrambling most of his back nine during the final round of the 90th Minnesota State Junior Boys Championship, Andrew Israelson of The Vintage at Staples rolled in a late birdie and held on to defeat Ben Sigel of Windsong Farm by a single shot Wednesday at Eagle Creek Golf Club.

Named the inaugural Mr. Golf Minnesota prior to the state tournament in June, Israelson played just three holes of the opening round Tuesday before inclement weather caused the first round to be suspended until Wednesday.

Israelson pieced together a 5-under par 67 to take the early lead once the first round was completed Wednesday and came back to shoot a 71 during the final round, shooting 6-under par 138 to claim the title.

"I've played in this tournament for five years and I've always played good one day and then very poorly the other day. I just wanted to play a good tournament," Israelson said in a news release. "I played really well-I think ever since the high school season ended, I've played a lot better. At the state tournament, you're competing against the best players in your class. This is a good win because you're playing the best players in the state.

"I struck the ball really well and I found my putter this week. As the round went on, the nerves started to kick in because I've never really been in that position before. It definitely was a learning experience; I've learned a lot growing up as a junior player in Minnesota. It's helped me progress as a player a lot."

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Jack Evans of Cragun's Legacy Courses tied for eighth with a 1-over-par 145 (73-72).

As he did during the opening round, Israelson carded three birdies over the first four holes and narrowly missed his birdie chance from 10 feet at the second as he quickly jumped to 8-under for the championship.

Following a bogey at the fifth, Israelson found trouble off the ninth tee leading to a second bogey before missing the green at the 10th, failing to convert par and slipped to 5-under.

Israelson got back on track at the 11th as he narrowly drove the green and made par before sending his approach at the 12th over the green. Showcasing his signature scrambling abilities, Israelson chipped up and converted par to stay at 5-under.

Missing the 13th green left, Israelson once again managed to make par before sinking a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 15th to maintain a slight advantage over Sigel.

Israelson, whose father, Bill, won the event three times from 1973-75, missed the chance to distance himself from Sigel by missing a short birdie putt at the 17th and would fly the 18th green, getting up-and-down once again on the final hole, rolling in his par putt from 10 feet for the win.

"That's my style of play-I'm more of a scramble golfer," Israelson said. "My game looks ugly, but it's gets me around."

Before helping Staples-Motley to the Class 2A team state title in 2013 and the individual title the following year, Israelson admitted he struggled with his temperament as a younger golfer.

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"I've matured a lot. When I was younger, I had a little attitude and it ruined some of my rounds. I finally figured out this year that no one shoots 6-under when they're angry the whole time," he said. "I decided to change my attitude and realized that every day you get to go out and play golf is a blessing."

Following his opening-round 69, Sigel began his final round with a birdie at the third, sinking a 6-footer to move to 4-under for the championship. Hitting a wedge to six feet at the par-4 ninth, Sigel again converted birdie to climb to 5-under before taking a bogey at the par-4 14th.

Sigel put his tee shot 20 feet above the hole at the par-3 16th and buried his birdie putt to move back to 5-under before making par on the final two holes to card a 2-under par 70, falling one stroke short of Israelson at 139.

"You can't win them all," Sigel said. "I gave it a good run-it wasn't my best stuff, but I was pretty happy with that and I'm excited for the State Open and some other tournaments coming up. I knew I had to go low today to win the tournament.

"Andrew is a great player and I wasn't counting on him making any mistakes. I thought I'd have to shoot in the 60's-at least 69-to have a chance to win.

"I had a rough stretch of holes yesterday, but besides that, I played solid all day. Today I was kind of scrappy but I scored alright. I wasn't very straight off the tee, which is usually my strength, and it kind of hurt me, but I made some good putts to stay in the tournament. I hit my wedges good and I putted well all week."

Jack Michel from The Pines at Grand View Lodge tied for 21st with a 75-73--148.

-- www.mngolf.org

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Jack Evans
Jack Evans

Related Topics: BOYS GOLF
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