By Nick Hunter
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – Not long after a frustrated Andy Smith walked off the golf course at an event Monday, his mindset quickly shifted to Tuesday’s opening round of the 2022 Twin Cities Open presented by Yamaha Golf and Utility, where he bounced back by carding a flurry of birdies during his final nine holes at Rush Creek Golf Club, posting a 5-under 67 to take the opening-round lead.
“Oddly enough the difference was tempo,” said Smith, the lead assistant professional at Hazeltine National Golf Club. “Being in a relaxed state today compared to yesterday; I felt rushed yesterday and today I was in a good state of mind all day long.“Rounds like yesterday, I’d be hot for three or four days. I sat on the putting green for about an hour and a half after, because that’s been my Achilles, and kind of figured something out and it got me going. It’s weird.”
An eagle at his ninth hole kickstarted Smith’s round Tuesday as he carded four birdies during his inward nine to take a one-stroke lead over North Dakota State University golfer Nate Adams to Wednesday’s final round.
“The trigger was the eagle putt from off the green,” Smith said. “That got me back in that state of mind and it was autopilot from there.”
Beginning his round on the 10th tee Tuesday, Smith carded back-to-back birdies to quickly move into red figures for the round. He stumbled late on his front nine to drop to 1-over through eight holes.
“I’ve been battling with my putting, so it was nice to see a couple fall early in the round,” he said. “Then I got a little squirrely with my iron shots and put myself in some bad positions.”
Turning in 1-under with his eagle at the 18th, Smith again started birdie-birdie to move to 3-under before rolling in a 12-footer at the sixth. Sinking a final birdie putt from four feet at the 18th put Smith into the outright lead at 5-under 67.
“I hope to have those same feelings tomorrow. I like this golf course, I haven’t played it a ton, but it’s a course that fits my eye. I need to play smart—aggressive, but smart.”
Playing on his home course at a state championship for the second consecutive season has proven to be an asset for the NDSU sophomore Adams, who finished fifth at last season’s Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship, shooting a 66 during both the first and final rounds.
“I was pretty confident. My goal today was to start with a birdie before a bogey,” Adams said following his round Tuesday. “I made six of them before my first bogey. I was hoping to get some rust off from the college season that I was battling with a little bit. Didn’t have many expectations and was able to play free and hit some shots I wanted to hit.
“I’ve played a lot of good rounds out here and that helps a lot. I know where to miss it and I think the greens are the toughest part of this course because they’re hard to read. I feel like I have some good knowledge when it comes to reading putts here.”
Carding his own string of five birdies in a seven-hole span during his opening 10 holes, Adams quickly distanced himself from the field of 80 players Tuesday.
Leaving himself with short irons into the green for a majority of his round, Adams wedged his approach from 70 yards to four feet, rolling in his sixth birdie of the day. He carded a pair of bogeys on two of his final three holes to sit one shot back of Smith at 4-under 68.
“The first 15 holes, I hit the ball really well and hit almost every green. I didn’t get into any trouble and made a few good putts,” Adams said. “Overall—you wake up and someone tells you you’re going to shoot 68, you can’t really be upset.
“Tomorrow, I need to hit the driver as well as I did today and keep making those putts inside of five feet.”
Derek Holmes, a professional at PXG Minneapolis, posted a 3-under 69 Monday to finish the opening round alone in third place, while Tony Krogen and Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame inductee Don Berry will begin the final round tied for fourth at 2-under 70.
Tee times for the final round of the 2022 Twin Cities Open begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday at Rush Creek Golf Club.
Professionals Andrew Israelson (Bemidji T&CC) and Michael Schmitz (2nd Swing) posted a 2-under 70 to sit tied for sixth with fellow section members Alex Kline (Troy Burne GC), Eric Rolland (Augsburg College) and Bennett Smed (The Classic at Madden’s).
Defending champion Jack Hiemenz (Victory Links GC) posted an even par 72 and will begin the final round five shots back.
THE 2022 TWIN CITIES OPEN
RUSH CREEK GOLF CLUB
MAPLE GROVE, MINN.
7,158 YARDS, PAR 72
TUESDAY’S FIRST ROUND RESULTS
1. Andy Smith (p), Hazeltine Nat’l GC, 35-32—67
2. Nate Adams, Rush Creek GC, 32-36—68
3. Derek Holmes (p), PXG Mpls, 35-34—69
T4. Tony Krogen, Rush Creek GC, 33-37—70
T4. Don Berry (p), Edinburgh USA, 37-33—70
T6. Andrew Israelson (p), Bemidji T&C, 35-36—71
T6. Michael Schmitz (p), 2nd Swing, 36-35—71
T6. Conor Schubring, Bent Creek GC, 37-34—71
T6. Trent Peterson, Valleywood GC, 34-37—71
T6. Alex Kline (p), Troy Burne GC, 36-35—71
T6. Eric Rolland (p), Augsburg College, 37-34—71
T6. Kurt Lambert, Highland Nat’l GC, 34-37—71
T6. Bennett Smed (p), The Classic at Madden’s, 35-36—71