Home-course knowledge helps Bull win state amateur title

Golden Valley’s Jesse Bull used a safe and winning approach on the final hole.

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Jesse Bull got congratulated by fellow golfers after the trophy ceremony after winning the state amateur Wednesday.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • kyndell.harkness@startribune.com,

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Four always is the number Jesse Bull has in mind when teeing off on the par-5 18th hole at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.

The club’s member relied on his standard with the 111th Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship on the line Wednesday afternoon. Bull shot that 4 — a birdie — on the final hole to claim the state amateur title with a one-stroke victory on his home course.

“If you try to make a three [on the 18th], things happen,” Bull said. “I felt 18 was probably one of the holes with the biggest advantage. I felt really comfortable making four there. … It’s fun to win it here and fun to win it on my home track.”

The final birdie gave him a 2-under 70 for the final round and a three-day, 4-under total of 212.

Each golfer in the final threesome entered the last hole in contention. Rush Creek’s Troy Johnson sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to draw even with Bull at 3 under. Baker National’s Erik Christopherson bogeyed No. 17 to fall a shot back at 2 under.

Johnson and Christopherson both reached the 18th green in two shots and putted for eagle. Bull’s second shot fell short of the green, but the club members surrounding the green knew Bull was right where he needed to be. The green’s back-to-front downward slope is known for causing three-putts, and putting uphill can be an advantage.

Bull chose to putt from the first cut several feet off the green. The 20-footer left him 4 feet from the hole, and he sank the birdie putt that made him the first golfer since 1948 to win the men’s state amateur on his home course.

Johnson, whose second shot landed behind the pin, three-putted. Christopherson birdied to finish in second at 3 under.

Johnson’s missed putt on 18 helped avoid a controversial finish. The leader through two rounds ended up being disqualified for a scoring error. Johnson signed for par on the par-3 14th, but he actually bogeyed the hole.

Johnson’s disqualification left Christopherson alone in second place. Valleywood’s Sammy Schmitz and New Prague’s Jack Pexa tied for third at 1 under. Schmitz shot a final-round low of 68.

“At this golf course, a lot of action happens between the 13th and 17th holes, and that’s what happened [Wednesday],” said Christopherson, who took the lead from Pexa after a birdie on 13th hole and then lost it with a bogey on No. 17.

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