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State golf: Mulder hopes to continue run of strong play

ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington High junior Will Mulder watches his ball go in the hole Saturday while practicing his putting at Worthington Country Club. Mulder will begin his first career state tournament this afternoon in Jordan.

WORTHINGTON — It has been a long road to the Class AA boys state golf tournament for Worthington’s Will Mulder.

When the Trojan junior carded a 79 at Tyler Golf Club on May 21 to advance to the Section 3AA tournament, he had finally gotten over a hurdle that had been too high during his first two seasons with the Worthington varsity. Both his freshman and sophomore years, Mulder missed the cut to play at sections by one stroke.

Eight days later in Buffalo Lake, he proved he belonged there with a 74. Mulder won a three-way tiebreaker to clinch his first career trip to the state tournament.

“It’s really just a feeling of accomplishment,” Mulder said. “I started to play good towards the second half of the season. I was able to put a couple good rounds together (at sections) and got it done.”

The disappointment of how his previous two campaigns had ended added fuel to the fire. Entering this season’s sub-section tournament, he said he was more determined than he had been in 2012 and 2013. But it was more than just playing with a chip on his shoulder that propelled him to the next level.

Mulder said his biggest area of weakness as the season began was in his short game. It’s something to which he has devoted ample time throughout the spring and, with improvement, he’s been able to see his scores drop.

“Coach (John) Koller has really helped me with my short game,” Mulder said. “He would really get after me about it and it really paid off.”

In the nearly two-week break between the Section 3AA tournament and 1:12 p.m. today, when Mulder tees off for his first of two rounds at Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan, he has spent as much time as he could on the course.

Although, with other obligations such as playing AAU basketball, that can sometimes be easier said than done.

“I try to find even little bits of time that I can get out to the course,” he said. “Even if I just come out to the practice greens or to the driving range, I try to put in at least a couple hours a day.”

Mulder made the trip to Jordan on Sunday so that he was well rested for his scheduled practice round on Monday morning. Prior to just a little more than 24 hours before he begins play at state, he’d never played Ridges at Sand Creek, meaning he was going to soak in as much as he could during the practice round.

No matter what he cards Tuesday and Wednesday, however, he said he is proud of how far he has come as a golfer.

“The expectations, for me; I’ve had a couple good rounds scattered between some OK rounds,” Mulder said. “I’m looking to put two good, 9-hole rounds together.”

Two teams and five individuals will be representing southwest Minnesota at the Class A golf tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker today and Wednesday.

That group will be led by the Murray County Central boys and Windom Area girls teams. The Rebels defeated Windom Area by three strokes to qualify at the Section 3A tournament on May 28 and take the team title on the boys’ side. The Eagles picked up a section title as well, taking a 364-381 victory over second-place Minneota.

Marissa Cartwright of the Eagles will get the tournament started officially when she tees off on the White Course at Pebble Creek at 7:30 a.m. today. Each of her five teammates will follow by teeing off in nine-minute intervals. Abby Herding of Westbrook-Walnut Grove, who medaled with an 83 at the section tournament, will tee off at 9 a.m., also on the White Course.

Jack Pierson will get things rolling for the Rebel boys at noon today as he tees off on the Red Course. MCC will also get started nine minutes apart, with Grant Everson finishing things off with a 12:45 p.m. start.

Dylan Pigman and Kyle Antes of Windom Area will play the White Course as individuals on Day 1. Mountain Lake Area’s Aaron Walzak and Ben Henning of Adrian will tee off shortly after.

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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