Ben Greve became the first back-to-back winner of the Minnesota State Open golf tournament in 22 years Sunday, and the amateur owes partial thanks to a man who finished 11 stokes and eight places behind him.
“Just a simple little thing, which is how it always is in golf, just a little adjustment,” Greve, who shot 15-under in three rounds at StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater, said of the advice Michael Christensen gave him earlier this week.
On the putting green at Interlachen Golf Club, where the State Amateur took place, Christensen noticed Greve was using a different putter than normal. And Greve’s grip was too tight, which made his backswing too high.
So Christensen told his friend to loosen his grip.
“I think it also loosened him up,” Christensen said.
Greve posted a par final round at Interlachen after shooting 7 over earlier in the tournament, and he carried that momentum into the State Open this weekend.
On Friday, he posted the lowest round of any competitor during the entire tournament, a 6-under 66. His next two rounds, 67 and 68, left him five strokes ahead of the second-place finisher, professional Jon DuToit.
Greve said he had played at StoneRidge about six times prior to this tournament and that there’s “nothing too tricky” about the course. His greatest trial Sunday, he said, happened because he misjudged the wind on the sixth hole. He thought it was crossing, but it was down. He double bogeyed, but he responded with birdies at holes eight and nine.
He was loose and relaxed, even though he had not won a tournament back-to-back since at least high school.
“I’d knew he’d be tough to catch for everyone when he’s that way,” Christensen said.
Sunday was Greve’s worst round of the weekend, but he was confident that if he remained aggressive, his three-shot lead over the next closest competitor coming into the day would be large enough for him to win.
The wind at StoneRidge, which hosted the tournament for the first time, was its strongest all weekend Sunday, especially earlier in the day.
So doing much better than Greve’s 4-under Sunday would be hard. Only two golfers did so, and they both shot 5-under.
“There weren’t going to be 8-unders out here today,” Greve said as wind whipped around him on the 18th hole, after he took pictures with his crystal trophy.
After the pictures, Greve handed off the trophy to his father, Dave, who was his high school golf coach and caddied for him this weekend.
Greve, a former Gopher standout, and his wife, Lynx veteran Lindsay Whalen, have a trophy room in their home, but Greve doesn’t have the first crystal trophy he won from this tournament. He gifted it to his father.
Now that he has two, though, Greve said he’d considering keeping one for himself.