By Nick Hunter
Sinking his par putt on the first playoff hole earned Udovich his second state title.
“This win feels pretty good—I can’t even fathom it,” Udovich said Thursday. “It’s been a long time and it feels great that the work I’ve been putting in is paying off a little bit.
“I like where my game is right now. A couple of weeks ago, my driver was off, and I tweaked it a little bit. I just need to stay confident and meet with my coach for a few lessons and keep my game in order.”
With their respective finishes Thursday, Udovich and Ramos will both move on to the national Junior Boys’ PGA Championship Aug. 1-4 at Hot Springs Country Club in Hot Springs, Ark.
Posting a 4-under 68 to begin the tournament Wednesday, Udovich entered Thursday’s final round one back of Ramos, but fell behind quickly with a bogey at the first to slip to 3-under for the tournament.
Momentum took a giant swing in Udovich’s favor at the par-4 third with an eagle, while Ramos failed to get up-and-down for par, giving Udovich a two-stroke lead at 5-under.
Udovich rolled in his birdie putt from eight feet at the fourth to extend his lead, which he would carry until a pair of bogeys over his final five holes during the outward nine to put him and Ramos to the final nine tied at 4-under.
The two remained deadlocked until a three-putt bogey for Ramos at the 15th gave Udovich a slim lead late, but Udovich would squander his chance to close out the championship during regulation, missing his par putt from eight feet to force a three-way playoff between him, Ramos and Miller.
Sinking a short par putt on the first playoff hole earned Udovich his second state championship victory in as many years.
“I putted pretty well today—my lag putting was good,” Udovich said. “I was also able to get the ball pretty close because my wedges were consistent, too. I could’ve fixed my tee shots on some holes because I missed a few fairways that got me in trouble. Overall, I’m happy with how I played.
“I struggled a little bit after hole six—I made a couple bogeys and struggled with the par-5s, but able to have the good start so it evened it out a little bit.”
In three appearances at the Drive, Chip and Putt Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, Udovich won the 2021 championship prior to a fourth-place finish at the Class AA tournament to close out his eighth-grade season at St. Croix Lutheran.
Last season, Udovich claimed medalist honors at the Class AA championship at Ridges at Sand Creek for his first state victory before turning in an impressive performance at the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship, where he posted rounds of 73-71-79 to finish tied for ninth at Olympic Hills Golf Club.
Transferring to Cretin-Derham Hall for his sophomore year, Udovich finished tied for 13th at the Class AAA championship last month at Bunker Hills Golf Club.
Denied his first state win Wednesday, Ramos collects his third consecutive Minnesota Boys’ Junior PGA Championship top-10 finish, and seventh top-10 finish at a state championship since 2019.
“I was hoping to do more of what I did yesterday—hit fairways and greens and make some putts,” Ramos said following his final round Thursday. “It didn’t quite turn out how I wanted it to.
“I’m happy to be moving on and I’ll try to get it done at nationals.”
Miller fired a 2-under 70 on Wednesday, and began the final round three shots off the lead, playing his first eight holes in even par. A birdie at the par-5 10th would put Miller at 3-under to help him earn a share of the lead.
Miller found sand trouble during the playoff Thursday, taking double-bogey to finish in third place, while James Super and Evan Raiche placed in a tie for fourth at 1-under 143.
THE 48TH MINNESOTA BOYS’ JUNIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
BEMIDJI TOWN AND COUNTRY CLUB
6,545 YARDS, PAR 72
THURSDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Sam Udovich, Inver Grove Heights, 68-73—141 (won playoff)
2. Andrew Ramos, Blaine, Minn., 67-74—141 (qualifier)
T4. Evan Raiche, Lakeville, Minn., 72-71—143
8. Isaac Ahn, Rochester, Minn., 73-72—145
9. Ryan Stendahl, Maple Grove, Minn., 73-73—146
T10. Christian Goralski III, North Oaks, Minn., 74-73—147
T10. Max Wilson, Roseau, Minn., 74-73—147