by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
McCabe Buege has been the top-ranked prep golfer in the state all season, a distinction the Rogers senior is justifying and wearing comfortably.
“It’s a good feeling to be No. 1,” said Buege, who shot a sizzling 64 at the St. Cloud tournament Thursday, and has won the state’s biggest regular-season tournament, the Tri-State, while placing second at Brainerd and third at Albert Lea. “That’s what I’ve worked hard to be. I expected to be ranked first, but I could still be playing a lot better.”
About the 64, coach Dan Bursheim said: “I cannot recall seeing a score that low in my six years of coaching boys golf from any high school player.”
Buege was an obvious pick at the outset, as he was MGA Junior Player of the Year in 2010 when he placed fourth in the state high school tournament and qualified for both the US Junior Amateur in Michigan and the US Public Links in North Carolina.
Those achievements rank as his top thrills in golf so far “along with signing last fall with UCF (Central Florida).”
Bursheim has been delighted to coach both Mac and his brother, Colton, now a freshman with the Gophers.
“Mac is a great kid to work with, and great in the classroom, too,” said Bursheim. Indeed, Buege has never had less than an “A” and ranks No. 2 in his class.
“Mac really thinks things through. He plays the course from the green back to the tee box, and decides how he wants to get there — where he wants to be on the green, what (approach) shot he has to take, and what tee shot he needs. He’s not afraid to use a 3-iron instead of a driver to get where he wants.”
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound athlete’s main physical gifts are strong legs and excellent flexibility. He averaged 82.6 his first varsity season, eighth grade, 81.3 in ninth, 75.6 as a sophomore, 73.8 last year and 72.0 this year.
He hits about seven fairways per round, and around 13 greens per round. “His strengths,” said Bursheim, “are definitely putting and getting the ball close to the hole if he misses the green on his approach shot (the short game).”
Buege has made all-conference since eighth-grade and all-state since 10th grade. He was conference low shooter as a soph, No. 2 last year, and he’s back on top by a wide margin.
The Buege boys had an earlier start in golf than most, because their dad, Joe, was course superintendent at Pebble Creek in Becker at the time.
“It started when I was 5 and Colton was 6,” said Buege. “We’d wake up with Dad and go to Pebble Creek and spend nine, 10 hours a day there, playing golf all the time.”
Buege has shot three holes-in-one, all at Fox Hollow, the first when he was 12. He’s aced No. 8 gold twice, and No. 12.
His 66 at Pebble Creek recently was a conference record and his best high school round. He had a 62 at Fox Hollow (white tees) in a junior tourney.
His worst score this year was 79 in miserable conditions the first day of the Tri-State Invitational at Edinburgh. He came back with a 72 in similar weather the next day to win the prestigious event.
“I’ve gotten better mentally,” he said. “I’m able to get over a round like that.”
His goals are to win state, both individually and as a team. Last year, the Royals were the best team all season but finished second behind Wayzata at state. “None of us was happy with second,” he groused. “We went there to win.”
Buege played in a local qualifier for the U.S. Open on Tuesday and tied for seventh with 75 at Minneapolis Golf Club. The top four advance to regionals.
His long-term goal? “To play pro golf, and make golf my job all my life.”
THE BUEGE SCORECARD
Favorite stuff — Class: math … TV show: “Sports Center” …. Movie: “Superbad” … Reading: golf magazines … Food: Chipotle fare, especially chicken and beef … Drink: Arnie Palmer (ice tea/lemonade) … Team: all the Minnesota teams … Athlete: Tiger Woods … Kickback: watching baseball …. Place he’d like to visit: Scotland to play golf in its birthplace