By Nick Hunter
COON RAPIDS, Minn. – In search of his first win as a professional, former Wayzata High School standout Van Holmgren carded six birdies over his final seven holes Tuesday at Bunker Hills Golf Club to begin the 105th Minnesota State Open presented by Yamaha Golf and Utility in a share of the lead at 6-under 66 with North Dakota State University golfer Nate Adams.
“I got control of the ball and I hit the putts I wanted to hit—just missed a few,” Holmgren said Tuesday. “The three putts I missed on the back all lipped out.
“At a 54-hole event, you’ve got to play three solid rounds. You don’t get a lay up on one of them.”
Even par through 11 holes Tuesday, Holmgren got the ball rolling at the 12th, sinking a 4-footer before rolling in a second straight birdie at the 13th from 10 feet.
He quickly jumped up the leaderboard with birdies at the 14th and 15th to reach 4-under for the championship. Holmgren sank a 4-foot slider at the par-4 16th for his fifth consecutive birdie and finished the day by dropping his birdie opportunity from six feet at the last to earn a share of the lead at 6-under 66.
“I think the switch flipped when I started knowing where the ball was going,” Holmgren said. “Then the ball finally started to go in.”
Beginning his collegiate career at North Dakota State, Holmgren would transfer to Florida Gulf Coast University the fall of his junior season in 2020.
During his final year at FGCU, Holmgren would earn two collegiate victories, including the 2021 Athletic Sun Conference individual championship to earn a spot in the NCAA Division I Regional, where he finished 16th.
Holmgren, who claimed a four-stroke victory at the 2018 Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club, finished tied for 15th in February at PGA Tour Canada Q-School to earn conditional status for the 2022 season.
Since then, he’s made two appearances at PGA Tour Canada events, finishing 59th at the Royal Beach Victoria Open in early June.
The 2022 Minnesota State Open champion will earn an exemption into the 2022 CRMC Championship next month at Cragun’s Resort—the first Tour event played outside of Canada.
Thanks to a pair of eagles to close out both nines Tuesday, Adams’ round of 66 marked yet another strong start, entering the week coming off a third-place finish at the Red River Amateur Championship in Moorhead, Minn. Earlier this season Adams fired a 68 to begin the Twin Cities Open, going on to finish fifth.
“Today I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,” Adams said. “I hit it almost exactly where I wanted to on every hole. Missed a short one for birdie on my 15th hole, but it was really fun out here today.
“I like my driver right now. There are a lot of trees out here and if you can put it in the fairway, the course plays a lot shorter. A lot of wedges into holes and I need to keep trusting my lines on the greens.”
Beginning his round on the 10th tee Tuesday, Adams played his opening eight holes in 1-over before holing out for eagle at the par-4 18th. He carded back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to move to 3-under for the day.
Adams bounced back from a bogey at the fourth by dropping a 25-footer for birdie from the fringe at the fifth and would escape trouble at the seventh, hitting from the right rough to 15 feet where he converted his birdie look. His 5-iron from 230 yards at the par-5 ninth snuggled inside of six feet and he would join Holmgren in the clubhouse at 66 after carding his second eagle of the round.
Holmgren and Adams hold a one-stroke advantage over Valparaiso University golfer Caleb VanArragon, while five players, including 2019 champion and former University of Minnesota golfer Angus Flanagan, will begin the second round two shots back of the lead ahead of Wednesday’s second round.
The 105th Minnesota State Open continues Wednesday when the second round gets underway at 7:30 a.m. at Bunker Hills Golf Club.
Flanagan, back-to-back winner of the Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am, navigated an up-and-down front nine by turning in 1-under before sinking three birdie putts over his final nine holes to finish in a five-way tie for fourth.
Eric Rolland (Augsburg College), a three-time winner at section events in 2021, played his opening nine in 2-under Tuesday and would tally a pair of birdies during his inward nine to finish the opening round tied for fourth.
University of Minnesota assistant coach Robert Bell carded four birdies against one bogey Tuesday to finish his opening round in a tie for ninth at 3-under 69.
Twin Cities Open runner-up, Derek Holmes, bounced back from a bogey on his opening hole by going birdie-eagle at the second and third holes. He finished the day tied for ninth after playing his final 15 holes in 1-under.
Chris Borgen (Lost Spur GC), turned in 1-under Tuesday and would tally three birdies and one bogey across his final seven holes to finish inside the top-10 at 3-under 69.
THE 105TH MINNESOTA STATE OPEN
BUNKER HILLS GOLF CLUB
COON RAPIDS, MINN.
7,137 YARDS, PAR 72
TUESDAY’S FIRST ROUND RESULTS
T1. Van Holmgren (p), Pioneer Creek GC, 36-30—66
T1. Nate Adams, Rush Creek GC, 31-35—66
3. Caleb VanArragon, Bunker Hills GC, 33-34—67
T4. Owen Rexing, Emerald Greens GC, 34-34—68
T4. Angus Flanagan (p), University GC, 35-33—68
T4. Eric Rolland (p), Augsburg College, 34-34—68
T4. Mario Tiziani (p), unattached, 33-35—68
T4. Lincoln Johnson, Chaska TC, 34-34—68
T9. Max Tylke, Legends Club, 34-35—69
T9. Robert Bell (p), University GC, 34-35—69
T9. Brady Madsen, Olivia GC, 33-36—69
T9. Jacob Pedersen, Windsong Farm, 35-34—69
T9. Sam Foust, Edina Country Club, 35-34—69
T9. Derek Holmes (p), PXG MPLS, 34-35—69
T9. Chris Borgen (p), Lost Spur GC, 34-35—69
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.