GOLF: Jackson’s Benson wins at MGA’s Junior RegionalWORTHINGTON — Kaylee Benson likes the laid-back, low-key feel of summertime golf.
WORTHINGTON — Kaylee Benson likes the laid-back, low-key feel of summertime golf.
It definitely showed on Thursday.
Benson carded a 79 — her lowest competitive score ever — and tied with Island View’s Megan Rachey for the individual title at the Minnesota Golf Association’s Junior Region 2 Finals.
With the win, Benson qualified for the MGA’s State Junior Competition Aug. 2-3 at Braemer Golf Course in Edina.
That’s what was at stake on Thursday at Prairie View Golf Links — not that you could tell, watching the cool and composed Benson.
“This is more low pressure, and more relaxed,” said Benson, who golfs for Jackson County Central during the school year. “In high school, it just seems a little more important — not that summer isn’t important.”
Benson teamed with Blaike Smith and her cousin Ashley Benson to represent the Jackson Country Club, which finished in third place with a 182 — behind Minnesota Valley (174) and Mankato (179).
The top two teams advance to Braemer, as do the top two individuals.
Before she hits the state links, Benson maintains that her short game needs the most work — but that’s what carried her to the state-qualifying round on Thursday.
“If I don’t chip close enough, then sometimes I’m in trouble,” she said.
Benson couldn’t have chipped any closer on the two birdies she sank from just beyond the green on Holes 8 and 14 — which helped her overcome a pair of three-putts and her out-of-bounds swing on 17.
Those were her only real blemishes as she broke 80 for only the second time in her competitive career. She hit a 79 for JCC during this year’s Section 3AA tournament in Willmar.
She matched that — at Prairie View, no less — a course that’s given her fits in the past.
“I usually have trouble here,” she said, “because it has more hazards.”
No worries on Thursday, though — just another low key, summer tournament.
Hall places 7th in boys
Brady Hall leaned back and sighed as Ryan Stevens drained a 20-foot putt on Hole 18, rounding out Stevens’ day at 76 — two strokes ahead of Hall.
The shot ended the pair’s friendly, back-and-forth battle — for Thursday, at least.
There’s probably much more to come for the future college teammates, who are both headed to Iowa Lakes to play golf this fall.
“Yeah, we try to beat each other, but he tends to beat me more than I beat him,” said Hall, who came in seventh place at the MGA’s Junior Region 2 tournament.
Stevens tied for third with Myles Pfingsten, his current Interlaken Golf Course (Fairmont) teammate, and Austin’s Luke Hoeffler.
Springfield’s Dillon Schultz came out on top with a round of 72, and Max Deutz punched his ticket to state with a 75.
Neither Stevens nor Hall made the cut, but Hall came away happy nonetheless.
“This summer’s just about having fun and getting to know each other,” he said.
And next season in college with Stevens?
“We’re both pretty solid golfers, and I think it should be a really fun golf season,”
A pair of Twin Cities teams, Island View (227) and Stonebrook (232), finished first and second in the boys’ team standings.
Hall’s team Dacotah Ridge (in Redwood Valley) came in fifth, behind Interlaken (234) and Austin (237).
Worthington might field Junior team next year
Worthington didn’t have a team in this year’s MGA Junior competition, but the town’s Junior League Director Ron Wood is hoping to field a team at next year’s tournament.
“I think I’ll have the horses next year to do it,” he said.
Wood said he plans on entering both boys’ and girls’ teams, as long as he has the numbers.
With clinic, busy day at Prairie View
Beside the Prairie View clubhouse, a few dozen miniature-sized golf bags were nestled amongst MGA Junior players’ regular-sized bags.
The tiny bags, from which little, two-foot golf clubs were sticking out, belonged to the youngsters taking part in Prairie View’s Junior Clinic.
The youngsters were out on PVGL’s new junior course that caters to youth with shorter holes.
All kids are invited.