By Nick Hunter
COON RAPIDS, Minn. – Pacing the field with a second consecutive round of 4-under par 68 Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Club, Augsburg College head golf coach Eric Rolland jumped to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of play at the 105th Minnesota State Open presented by Yamaha Golf and Utility.
Quickly erasing a two-stroke deficit with a pair of birdies during his front nine, Rolland then carded three birdies against one bogey during his final nine to take a one-stroke lead over fellow professionals Derek Holmes, Van Holmgren and Valparaiso University golfer Caleb VanArragon.
“I got to be with my daughter, who’s caddying for me, and that’s the biggest thing for me,” Rolland said following his round Wednesday. “It just creates such a cool vibe.
“I have to give credit to my buddy [2021 Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur champion John Brellenthin]. He said I hit the ball too low—my ball mark is too far away from my ball. I started hitting it higher and it’s working pretty well. When things sync up, it feels good.”
Birdies at the third and fifth holes quickly put Rolland into red figures Wednesday, turning in 6-under for the championship. He would continue his steady play to the back nine, converting birdie chances at the 11th and 14th to move to 8-under before his only blemish in the form of a bogey at the 15.
Rolland sank his 25-footer for birdie at the last to take the clubhouse lead at 8-under 136 with 18 holes to play, looking for his biggest state victory since winning the Minnesota PGA Match Play Championship at Windsong Farm in 2018.
“I hit the ball pretty solid and got the par-5’s,” he said. “We have a routine of playing one shot at a time and just stick to it. No matter what the outcome is, just go with it. If you shoot 80 tomorrow—just try to enjoy it.”
As one of the state’s most consistent players, Rolland has collected over 35 section wins since 2010. His only winless season came in 2016, where he would settle for seven top-5 finishes.
Getting off to one of the better starts Wednesday, VanArragon holed out for eagle on his opening hole from 128 yards to quickly jump to 7-under for the championship, but would stumble late during his front nine, carding three bogeys over a five-hole span.
VanArragon, back-to-back winner of the Twin Cities Championship, found his stride during his final nine holes, sinking a birdie from six feet at the 11th to reach 5-under once again.
Rolling in back-to-back birdies from inside of four feet at the 14th and 15th would put the former Blaine High School standout in the chase at 7-under with one round to play.
“To start off with an eagle was a good bit of momentum,” VanArragon said Wednesday. “I had a rough warmup this morning—my swing wasn’t feeling very good on the range. I struggled with my swing on the front nine. I was missing iron shots and putting myself in bad spots and tough lies in the rough.
“My iron play was a little bit better on the back nine. I’m happy with what I was able to get out of today’s round because I was pretty uncomfortable with my swing at several points. It’s a stacked leaderboard with a lot of good players, so all I can do is play my game and stay out of my own way.”
Playing himself into contention once again this week, Holmes will look to avenge his runner-up finish to Andy Smith at the Twin Cities Open at Rush Creek in May.
Beginning his round on the 10th tee Wednesday, Holmes carded a lone birdie during his front nine to turn in 4-under for the championship before making up group during his inward nine.
Trading a birdie at the first with a bogey at the second, Holmes remained at 4-under but would move to 5-under by converting his birdie look at the third.
Back-to-back birdies to close out his round at the eighth and ninth holes put Holmes within one shot of the lead at 7-under 137.
Holmgren, who shared the 18-hole lead with North Dakota State University golfer Nate Adams, began his round on the 10th tee Wednesday and quickly started the scoring with a birdie at the 11th before taking a costly double-bogey at the 12th to fall to 5-under.
Playing his next eight holes in even par, Holmgren climbed back into contention with birdies at the second and third to post a 71, sitting one shot back at 7-under.
A total of eight players, including 2020 champion and former University of Minnesota golfer Angus Flanagan, as well as two-time champion Andrew McCain, will begin the final round in a tie for fifth at 5-under 139.
The final round of the 105th Minnesota State Open is scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. Thursday at Bunker Hills Golf Club.
Former University of Minnesota Golf Thomas Campbell (2nd Swing) carded two birdies and an eagle to close out his front nine Wednesday and move into contention. He’ll start the final round tied for fifth at 139
Jeff Running (Wayzata Country Club) was one of Wednesday’s biggest movers, posting a 5-under 67 to improve from his opening round 76. He sits five shots back, tied for 17th with Brady Hanson (2nd Swing).
Don Berry (Edinburgh USA) sits tied for 39th at even par as one of six former champions to make the cut: Belisle (2021); Flanagan (2020); Madsen (2019); McCain (2015, 2018) and Troy Johnson (2011). Berry won his first in 1992 and again in 1999.
THE 105TH MINNESOTA STATE OPEN
BUNKER HILLS GOLF CLUB
COON RAPIDS, MINN.
7,137 YARDS, PAR 72
WEDNESDAY’S SECOND ROUND RESULTS
1. Eric Rolland (p), Augsburg College, 68-68—136
T2. Derek Holmes (p), PXG Mpls, 69-68—137
T2. Caleb VanArragon, Bunker Hills GC, 67-70—137
T2. Van Holmgren (p), Pioneer Creek GC, 66-71—137
T5. Mario Tiziani (p), unattached, 68-71—139
T5. Thomas Campbell (p), 2nd Swing, 71-68—139
T5. Max Tylke, Legends Club, 69-70—139
T5. Owen Rexing, Emerald Greens GC, 68-71—139
T5. Angus Flanagan (p), University GC, 68-71—139
T5. Andrew McCain (p), Dellwood CC, 70-69—139
T5. Henry May, Interlachen CC, 71-68—139
T5. Nate Adams, Rush Creek GC, 66-73—139
For complete tournament results go to: https://mnpga.bluegolf.