It’s Edina in the team lead after Day 1 of the girls’ Class 3A golf tournament at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids. But Tuesday’s largest gallery followed the day’s final group of individual qualifiers to tee off on the East Course.
That foursome included two-time defending big school champion Celia Kuenster of Cretin-Derham Hall and defending women’s state amateur champion Sarah Burnham of Wayzata.
Joined by Shakopee’s Alex Schmid and Chanhassen’s Brenna Lervick, the group did not disappoint the onlookers.
The biggest hiccup was a 33-minute weather delay for a passing storm around 6 p.m.
“Nobody was shooting a million out there; pretty much fairways and greens,” Kuenster said. “Real consistent golf. It’s nice to see [competitors] making putts because you know they’re out there.”
Burnham and Schmid shot matching 2-under-par 71s to lead the individual tournament by a stroke over Kuenster. Lervick finished with a 74 and sits in a tie for sixth.
Players in the group described an intense round of golf after they had signed their scorecards.
“It makes me pay more attention to my shots,” Schmid said. “We were all kind of even, and that made it a lot of fun.”
All also felt they left shots out on the course.
Kuenster’s only bogey came on the 18th hole and Schmid’s birdie putt lipped out at the last after knocking a 9-iron to about 4 feet.
Burnham said she didn’t feel comfortable until the turn, and then went on to make four birdies on the back nine.
“I thought the [scores] would be lower,” Kuenster said. “There’s a lot of opportunities if you keep it in the fairway.”
The excitement will continue. The foursome is paired together again for the final round beginning at 12:36 p.m.
Leaf leads boys’ 3A
William Leaf sent out a confident tweet around midday Monday expressing his “good vibes” about returning to Bunker Hills.
Though he’s played there in the Class 3A boys’ golf tournament twice prior to Tuesday, he really shined last summer with a 4-under-par 68 in the second round of the Minnesota State Open.
“I think of this as a ball-strikers course,” Leaf said. “And I love to hit the ball, especially my irons.”
On Tuesday Leaf was particularly fond of his short irons.
The Winona senior turned in a 69 — including seven birdies — without making a putt longer than 8 feet. He’s the Day 1 leader, two shots ahead of Wayzata’s Will Holmgren and three clear of a group of four golfers at even par.
“I definitely consider myself a competitor, and late in the year I’ve just been playing really steady,” Leaf said. “I knew I just had to go out there and play my game and the rest would take care of itself.”
On a course that played a longer-than-usual 6,514 yards and 40 of 88 competitors shot 80 or worse, fear looms that a high number is out there. Just not in Leaf’s mind.
“I’ll sleep well,” he said. “I’d rather be here than doing just about anything else.”
Holmgren aims to score low each time he unloads his clubs at a golf course.
He just prefers to do his damage later rather than sooner.
“I don’t always like to birdie the first hole,” the junior said. “I think sometimes it can set a bad omen for me.”
So you have to wonder, when he drained a 20-footer for birdie on East No. 1 on Tuesday morning, how much he really celebrated.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to go in, actually,” Holmgren said. “But it wound up being all right.”
Holmgren finished his day with four birdies and an eagle, and helped the Trojans to the Day 1 team lead by two over Forest Lake with a combined 298 score.
Jessica Blanchard of Marshall provided the shot of the day Tuesday. Playing in the Class 2A girls’ competition at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, the sophomore aced the 132-yard par-3 17th hole with a 7-iron.
Blanchard is in a tie for 34th place. Natalie Roth of Detroit Lakes leads after posting a 1-under 71. She’s a shot ahead of teammate Kate Smith. The defending champion Lakers lead the team competition by 19 shots.
Jordan Peters of Delano shot a 3-under 69 and leads by two shots in the boys’ Class 2A competition. Staples-Motley, paced by freshman Andrew Isrealson’s 71, leads the team portion by five over defending champion Detroit Lakes.
Grant Exsted’s 4-under-par 68 at Pebble Creek in Becker led the way for Mille Lacs, which has a 20-stroke lead over defending champ Legacy Christian Academy in the Class 1A boys’ tournament.
Hannah Kruger of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton shot an 80 and leads the girls’ competition. Badger-Greenbush-Middle River has a seven-shot lead in the team race.