By Nick Hunter
BEMIDJI, Minn. – Capping off his junior season at Totino-Grace High School with a fifth-place finish last month at the Class AA championship at Ridges at Sand Creek, Andrew Ramos followed up his performance by earning co-medalist honors at Prestwick Golf Club the next day to qualify for the U.S. Junior.

Continuing his strong play Wednesday, Ramos rolled in five birdies during his final nine holes at Bemidji Town and Country Club to take a one-stroke lead over Sam Udovich at the 48th Minnesota Boys’ Junior PGA Championship.“I started getting some putts to drop—a couple of lucky ones, but also hit some good shots into the fairway,” said Ramos, who carded three birdies that were nullified by three bogeys during an up-and-down front nine Wednesday.

Beginning his round on the 10th tee Wednesday, Ramos got started quickly with a birdie on his opening hole, but gave back two shots with bogeys at the 13th and 14th.

He drew even after converting a birdie chance at the 15th, and followed it with his third birdie of the round at the 17th, but he would turn at even par after taking bogey at the par-4 18th.

Helped by his putter to begin his final nine, the University of Oklahoma commit rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at the first and then a 15-footer for birdie at the second to reach 2-under for the championship.

Getting up-and-down from just off the green at the par-4 third and the par-5 fourth, Ramos quickly climbed the leaderboard to reach 4-under.

Taking advantage of the par-5 ninth, Ramos again would tally a greenside up-and-down for his eighth birdie of the round, shooting 5-under 67 in search of his first state victory.

“I started hitting some good approach shots [on the back nine] and made some putts. I was in the fairway—you have to hit the fairway and keep it in play on this course,” Ramos said.

A sluggish start with one bogey over his first eight holes Wednesday, Udovich strung together three birdies beginning at the ninth to jump into contention at 2-under for the round.

He got up-and-down for birdie at the 15th and would finish his day at 4-under after converting one final birdie chance from four feet at the 16th to sit one back of the lead.

“I got off to a slow start with a lot of missed putts, but then down the stretch I was putting better and made a couple more birdies,” Udovich said. “I started feeling it a little more. The first couple of holes I didn’t think my speed on the green was very good, but I dialed it in and adjusted.”

“Trying to have a good mentality for tomorrow and see what I can do. I feel like I need to hit my driver a little bit better and get off to a better start with my putter. I missed a lot of fairways today, so I played pretty good out of the rough. If I can hit some more fairways tomorrow, I’ll be in a good spot.”

After claiming the Class AA individual title to close out his freshman year at St. Croix Lutheran in 2022, Udovich followed it with an impressive performance at the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship, where he placed tied for ninth.

Udovich transferred to Cretin-Derham Hall for his sophomore year and placed 13th last month at Bunker Hills Golf Club, and he now looks to improve on a 42nd-place finish at last year’s Minnesota Boys’ Junior PGA Championship.

“Last year was definitely not what I wanted,” Udovich said after opening the tournament with an 85 at The Wilds Golf Club before posting a final-round 72.

“I tried to put in as much work as I could today and post a better score than last year.”

Cole Witherow, a two-time Class A individual champion while at New Life Academy, fired a 3-under 69 to sit two shots off the lead, while St. Louis Park High School’s Landon Miller opened the championship with a 2-under 70 to finish the opening round in fourth.

The 48th Minnesota Boys’ Junior PGA Championship continues Thursday when the final round gets underway at 7:30 a.m. at Bemidji Town and Country Club.

6,545 YARDS, PAR 72

1. Andrew Ramos, Blaine, Minn., 31-36—67
2. Sam Udovich, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 36-32—68
3. Cole Witherow, Woodbury, Minn., 36-33—69
4. Landon Miller, St. Louis Park, Minn., 36-34—70
T5. Jack Justesen, Hawley, Minn., 35-37—72
T5. Andrew Ballou, Victoria, Minn., 37-35—72
T5. Carson Boe, Cottonwood, Minn., 38-34—72
T5. Jon Harris, Hastings, Minn., 38-34—72
T5. Evan Raiche, Lakeville, Minn., 35-37—72
T10. Kyler Schwamb, Farmington, Minn., 35-38—73
T10. Joseph Mackinac, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 36-37—73
T10. Cameron Stenzel, Victoria, Minn., 34-39—73
T10. Isaac Ahn, Rochester, Minn., 36-37—73
T10. Charles Hanson, Morris, Minn., 37-36—73
T10. Tim Sexton, Rochester, Minn., 39-34—73
T10. Joseph Honsa, Mendota Heights, Minn., 37-36—73
T10. Ryan Stendahl, Maple Grove, Minn., 38-35—73

For complete tournament results go to: