by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor
Of all the tools Morgan Rask has used to become a standout golfer, his sentimental favorite would be that five-gallon bucket his grandpa, Harlan, uses to challenge him and his big brother.
Rask, who played in his fourth state tournament this week to close his Rogers Royals career, is 10 years younger than Clayton. The older sibling starred for Elk River and made all-Big Ten for Minnesota, helping the Gophers place fourth and seventh in the nation. He has played various pro tours since then and recently set the Fox Hollow record with 61.
“My grandpa puts that bucket in a field near our house and has us chip from 50 or 70 yards until one of us puts one in,” said Morgan, who lives near Otsego. “We’ve been doing that for years. He still has us out there whenever Clayton is home.”
So, who wins?
“Usually Clayton, but I’ve won a few times.”
Morgan grew up watching Clayton play for the Elks and Gophers and other events. Despite the age gap, they have played a lot of golf together.
The younger Rask helped Rogers become of the state’s best programs, with four state trips — placing second, first (tie), fourth and eighth — and five conference titles in the five years he’s been a starter. He’s the only Royal to play in all four state tourneys.
Rask, who’ll continue at St. John’s next year, made all-Mississippi 8 four times, averaging 79.8 in ninth grade, 79.0 in 10th, 77.8 as a junior and 74.8 this year, nabbing the season medal.
The 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander averages about 305 off the tee.
“Morgan has always been real good with managing the course,” coach Dan Bursheim said. “He’s a strong kid who can hit pretty far. This year what’s really improved is his putting.”
Rask averaged 30 putts this year, a drop from 32 to 33 last year.
The Royal captain has a favorable golfer’s temperament as well.
“He’s always been mature, courteous, and polite,” Bursheim said. “Even in seventh and eighth grade, he was the same kid as now that you could really talk to.”
Rask helped Rogers tie Wayzata for the state championship his sophomore year, placing 15th with 75-75-150. He closed his career with a 17th-place 153 on Wednesday. He shot 170 and 165 at his other two state tourneys.
Rask has five career tournament wins, four this year. (It’s tough just to lead your own team with five college golfers in the grades ahead of you.) He has placed fourth as a sophomore and third as a senior in section meets. His 128 career birdies ranks No. 4 for the Royals. He’s had one ace, in 2011 at St. Cloud Country Club.
“He’s pretty dang good,” said Clayton Rask, contacted in North Carolina, here he lives, this week. “I’m proud of all he’s done, and I’m excited to see how he’ll do at St. John’s. I think he’ll be a real good college golfer.”
THE RASK SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Melody and Bruce; older siblings Clayton and Vanessa … Sport: Golf … Other activities: NHS, Mediation, Student Council, Link, Connect Affect … Academics: 3.48 GPA … College plans: St. John’s, golf, global business or accounting
Favorite stuff — Class: English Lit … TV shows: “That ‘70s Show,” “Wipeout” … Movies: “Fast & Furious” series, “Greatest Game Ever Played” … Food: “My grandma’s chicken noodle soup” … Drink: Gatorade blue … Music: country, especially Luke Bryan, and rap … Teams: Vikes, Twins, Wild … Athletes: Adrian Peterson, Phil Mikkelson, Jack Nicklaus … Kickback: fishing, hunting … Wants to visit: Bora Bora