By Nick Hunter

STILLWATER, Minn. – With one win in each of her last five seasons, University of Wisconsin golfer Camille Kuznik put herself in position to collect her sixth state victory Monday, carding a 1-under 71 at StoneRidge Golf Club to begin the 23rd Minnesota Women’s State Open presented by Yamaha Golf and Utility.

Kuznik will start the final round with a two-stroke advantage over a crowded leaderboard, including four-time champion Lisa Grimes, two-time defending champion Betsy Kelly, and sisters Lanie and Maggie Veenendall.

“It was a good score at the end of the day, but I had a few strokes slip away,” the 20-year-old Kuznik said following her round Monday. “My irons were on, which was a big help, and I was giving myself so many birdie opportunities.

“I’ve been hitting the ball really well lately, but I feel like I haven’t hit my full potential this summer. I was hoping to let loose and not have anything to stress about.”

Kuznik started quickly Monday with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth holes before she was slowed by a bogey at the par-4 sixth, turning in 1-under for the round.

She would get up-and-down at the par-5 11th to once again reach 2-under for the day, but failed to save par at the par-3 14th.

Rebounding with her fourth birdie of the round with a short putt at the par-5 17th, Kuznik would take a bogey at the last to post a 1-under 71 as she looks for her sixth state win in as many seasons.

“Tomorrow, I want to go out and do the things I couldn’t do today,” she said. “I had so many more opportunities—I want to go back and get those.”

Kuznik, a former Orono High School standout who was named Ms. Minnesota Golf in 2021, won the Minnesota State Junior Girls’ Championship in 2018 and 2019, and followed it with her third state win at the Minnesota Junior PGA Match Play Championship in 2020.

She claimed the 2021 Minnesota Public Golf Association Junior Public Links title, and paired up with Aayushi Sarkar to win the Minnesota Golf Association Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Monticello Country Club last season.

Kelly, who became the first golfer in tournament history to win back-to-back championships, strung together three birdies over a six-hole span Monday, including a pair of 15-foot putts at the 12th and 13th holes, before stumbling down the stretch with bogeys on each of her final three holes.

“Overall, I struggled. I missed a birdie putt on one, a short birdie putt on two, and a short birdie putt on three,” Kelly said after her opening round. “I battled back on the front, and then was lighting it up for a while on the back.

“Finishing bogey-bogey-bogey—I don’t know if I just ran out of steam or lost focus. 100 yards and in, I was playing pretty well, I just wasn’t reading the greens very well, and had a couple bad tee shots coming in.”

Kelly edged 2019 champion Kathryn VanArragon in by one stroke at Minnesota Valley Country Club in 2021 to claim the first of her two wins before running away from the field with a seven-stroke victory over VanArragon and University of Minnesota golfer Emma Carpenter at Rush Creek Golf Club last year.

Grimes, whose most recent victory came in 2014 at Town and Country Club, carded a pair of bogeys over her first four holes Monday, but recovered by converting her birdie opportunity at the par-3 ninth to turn in 1-under.

Taking her third bogey of the day at the par-3 16th, Grimes answered by capitalizing on her birdie chance on the final hole to post an opening-round 73.

Grimes won the event for the first time in 2004 at Purple Hawk Country Club, and again two years later at Bunker Hills Golf Club. She became the winningest player in tournament history with her third win in 2012 at Burl Oaks Golf Club.

VanArragon, winner of the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship two weeks ago at Baker National Golf Course, played her first 10 holes in 1-under Monday before a bumpy back nine put her in the clubhouse at 2-over 74.

She will begin Tuesday’s final round tied for eighth with University of St. Thomas’ Isabelle Lynch, North Dakota State University golfer Catherine Monty, and recent Minnesota State Junior Girls’ champion Olivia Salonek, three shots back of Kuznik.
The second round of the 23rd Minnesota Women’s State Open is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday at StoneRidge Golf Club.

6,052 YARDS, PAR 72

1. Camille Kuznik, Pioneer Creek GC, 35-36—71
T2. Lanie Veenendall, New Richmond GC, 37-36—73
T2. Emma Davies, Olympic Hills GC, 37-36—73
T2. Maggie Veenendall, New Richmond GC, 34-39—73
T2. Amelia Morton, Bunker Hills GC, 35-38—73
T2. Lisa Grimes (p), Alexandria GC, 37-36—73
T2. Betsy Kelly (p), TPC Twin Cities, 36-37—73
T8. Isabelle Lynch, Braemar GC, 37-37—74
T8. Catherine Monty, White Bear YC, 36-38—74
T8. Kathryn VanArragon, Bunker Hills GC, 36-38—74
T8. Olivia Salonek, Keller GC, 37-37—74

For complete tournament results go to: