by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Colton Buege is 2-for-2 in Fox Hollow Golf Club men’s tournaments after cruising to a seven-stroke victory with 69-68-137 on Saturday and Sunday.
“That’s the best golf I have played all summer,” reflected the 21-year-old former Rogers Royals two-time all-stater. “I really haven’t had a very good summer golf-wise, but I’m finally starting to figure out the game again.”
A year ago, Buege made his club tournament debut and won a three-way playoff after rallying from eight strokes behind.
“I made it a little easier this year. I shot a little better in the first round,” he smiled.
Buege, a well-packed 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds from regular weight-lifting, had a five-stroke lead after Saturday. Scott Kostelecky pulled within two strokes on the front nine Sunday, but Buege rolled in some nice putts and pulled away again. He closed with a chip-in birdie.
Kostelecky, three-time club champion from Maple Grove, was runner-up with 74-70-144. Placing third was C. Olson with 76-70-146. Completing the top five were Chad Christian, Buege’s former Royal teammate, with 75-73-148 and Paul Kangas with 74-75-149.
The championship flight had 12 players. There were six other flights.
Buege helped the Royals tie for one state championship and place second another year, then joined the Minnesota Gophers golf team. After one red-shirt year and one year where he appeared in only one tournament, Buege left the Gopher team this year. He remains in school there.
“Yes, I’m done with the Gophers,” he acknowledged. “The coach and I didn’t get along too well so I’m doing my now thing now. I have a year of school left.”
This summer he’s “playing as much as I can” but with limited success before this weekend. A highlight was playing in the Mexican Amateur along with brother McCabe, who plays for Central Florida.
Buege said this was his last tourney of the summer with school soon opening, but he plans to play in two tournaments in Florida over the winter.
Payne is seniors champion
Robert Payne turned in 36 steady holes, his main focus being trying not to get too excited, and emerged as seniors champion with 76-75-151.
“I worked all day to keep my adrenaline down,” said Payne. “I couple shots were zoomers when I hit them too hard.”
Payne, 55, a carpenter who lives in downtown Minneapolis, won by two strokes, staying out of trouble all tournament. He couldn’t quite get putts to the holes sometimes, but had plenty of pars.
Highlights on Sunday were birdies on No. 7 with two five-iron shots, then a 15-foot putt, and No. 16 with a stringer 3-wood shot within 60 yards, a nice flip unto the green and a downhill putt.
“I can’t wipe this smile off my face,” said Payne, elated at his first club tournament title.
Payne has dropped his handicap from six to two in the last two years. His recent highlights came in two MPGA Division II, a combo event in 2012 and four-ball in 2011.
Joe Sicora was next with 78-75-153 and two-time champ Gregg Blackwell was third with 79-78-157 among 14 seniors entrants.