By Nick Hunter
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Coming off a two-win season in 2020, two-time defending Minnesota Golf Association Junior Girls’ Player of the Year Kathryn VanArragon fired a final-round 73 Tuesday at Bent Creek Golf Club to erase a two-stroke deficit and claim the 46th Minnesota Girls’ Junior PGA Championship.
VanArragon posted a 36-hole tally of 5-over 147 to earn a two-stroke victory over Ava Hanneman for her fifth state championship victory. VanArragon and Hanneman both earn spots in the 2021 National Girls’ Junior PGA Championship July 27-30 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
“I started out pretty well today—I was 2-under through five and then doubled [No. 6] because my tee shot went out of bounds. I had to try to come back from that the rest of the round,” VanArragon said Tuesday.
“I’m looking forward to playing a really nice course at Valhalla and playing on the national stage against some really great competition. I’m going to keep working on getting better mentally, physically and growing my consistency.”
VanArragon quickly gained control of the lead early Tuesday with a birdie at the first and another at the fourth to get to 1-over for the championship before a wayward tee shot at the sixth led to double-bogey.
Turning at 4-over par following a bogey at the ninth, VanArragon rolled in her birdie chance at the 13th, but would give back a shot with bogey at the 15th. Finding trouble in a greenside bunker at the last, VanArragon dropped a lengthy bogey putt to clinch a two-stroke victory over Hanneman at 5-over 147.
“The last putt stood out for me—I hit a good drive, but my second shot plugged in the lip of the bunker. I didn’t get it out and the hit out to 20 feet and made the putt. It was just a nice way to end it.”
In 2018, VanArragon became the youngest player to win the Class AAA individual title as a seventh grader and would accomplish the same feat the following year by winning the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship days after her 14th birthday.
VanArragon, who will begin her junior year at Blaine High School this fall, earned a three-stroke victory at the Twin Cities Junior Championship last summer at Victory Links Golf Course before claiming the Women’s State Open at The Jewel Golf Club. In 14 appearances at state championships since 2018, VanArragon has just one finish outside the top-10.
Hanneman, a soon-to-be freshman at Orono High School, fired a 5-over 76 to open the championship four shots off the lead Monday, and would start the scoring quickly Tuesday with an eagle on the opening hole to climb the leaderboard.
Back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth holes put Hanneman back to even par for the round, but she rebounded by converting birdie at the par-4 sixth hole. A bogey at the eighth would put Hanneman at 5-over heading to her final nine holes, where she would card two bogeys to finish the championship at 7-over par 149.
Jordana Windhorst-Knudsen fired a final-round 74 Tuesday to finish tied for third with 18-hole leader Olivia Salonek at 10-over 152.
THE 46TH MINNESOTA GIRLS’ JUNIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
BENT CREEK GOLF CLUB
EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN.
5,648 YARDS, PAR 71
TUESDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Kathryn VanArragon, Blaine, Minn., 74-73—147
2. Ava Hanneman, Orono, Minn., 76-73—149
T3. Jordana Windhorst-Knudsen, Lake City, Minn., 78-74—152
T3. Olivia Salonek, Roseville, Minn., 72-80—152
5. Emma Welch, Lakeville, Minn., 79-75—154
T6. Anna Eckmann, Park Rapids, Minn., 82-73—155
T6. Lauryn Finley, Apple Valley, Minn., 76-79—155
T8. Izzy Olson, Nisswa, Minn., 79-77—156
T8. Saachi Deshmukh, Plymouth, Minn., 77-79—156
10. Camille Kuznik, Orono, Minn., 78-79—157
For complete tournament results go to: MN Girls Junior PGA Championship – Overall Leaderboard | Minnesota PGA Jr. (bluegolf.com)