by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Alex Kline’s season goals were to qualify for his fourth state tournament and make this one his best, specifically to crack the 150 barrier and the top 10.
The Elk River senior golfer accomplished those quests at Bunker Hills, shooting 76 Tuesday and 73 Wednesday after a hot start, placing ninth with149 in the Class AAA tournament.
Ben Welle of team champion Moorhead and Jon Dutoit of Chaska tied for first with 142.
“That’s the best score I’ve had here,” said Kline, the Elks’ lone qualifier this year, after two years of team qualification. “I wanted to get under 150 for two days and I’m proud of that.”
Kline was tied for 13th after shooting 76 on Tuesday. He came out blazing Wednesday with birdies on his first four holes on the East, helped by a couple of breaks and four one-putts.
He pushed a tee shot over trees on No. 1 but hit a nine-iron shot within six feet. Next he hit another iron shot off a car path to within a foot. Then a nine iron within a foot again. Then a chip shot within two feet on a par five.
“At that point I was even par for the tournament, and was thinking I had a good chance for the top eight.”
Kline cooled off, though, with three bogies in a row, including one tee shot into the water and one missed four-foot putt.
“I still turned at minus one,” he noted. “On the back, it was a grind the whole way. The last five holes, I hit five bunkers. But I finished well for how I was hitting the ball.”
On No. 8 West, a long par three, his bunker shot rolled within a foot, and he salvaged a par.
“Otherwise, kinda boring. A ho-hum round.”
Nonetheless a round that got him in the top ten for the first time after placing 36th, 21st and 31st his first three state trips, with 158 and 154 twice.
“My career (at ERHS) was a lot of fun and thanks much to Coach Conley,” Kline said. “I improved a ton, and I look forward to next year, playing Division One. I did a lot for how little I started (golf with). I have not had many lessons.”
Kline will play at University of South Dakota.
“That was a great way for Alex to end his career,” said coach Dave Conley. “He played super today. He has improved every year. It has been a treat to have him on the team.”