Shattuck-St. Mary’s Director of Golf, Mike Higdon is pleased to announce that Sarah Butler has joined the Golf Center of Excellence staff. Coach Butler brings a wealth of knowledge to the program building off of her past experience and success as a touring professional, collegiate team captain, and her involvement in the junior golf industry. She comes to Faribault, MN from Atlanta, Georgia where she was a Tournament Director for the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) for the past two years. The AJGA conducts national junior golf tournaments for young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships. Before working for the AJGA, Butler was a touring professional from 2007 – 2010 based out of The Woodlands, Texas. During her professional career, Sarah played in the 2009 CN Canadian Women’s Open on the LPGA Tour and had several top 10 finishes on the CN Canadian Women’s Tour. Prior to turning professional she was a 4-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota, co-captain of the team during her junior and senior seasons, and winner of the 2005 University of Minnesota Invitational. Coach Butler is returning home to Minnesota as she grew up in Roseau, Minnesota which is just 10 miles from the Canadian border.
Higdon had the following to say, “I am extremely pleased to have Sarah joining our program. She has so much to offer our players as far as helping them develop as golfers and student athletes while maturing into young men and women. She brings a whole new dynamic to the program with her past experiences and networks within the golf community. I am excited about the future of this program and the new levels our players will achieve with Sarah as a member of the staff.”
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Sarah Butler added as new Coach
Nathan Zhao 2015 wrapped up a long 10 days of competition this past Tuesday with a commanding victory at the PGA Junior Series event at Genoa Lakes Golf Club in Genoa, Nevada. Zhao was near the top of the leader-board during the entire 3 day event and was able to shoot under par all three rounds of the tournament on the 7359 yard golf course. Nathan entered the final round 3 shots back of the leader and was able to close that gap within the first 5 holes with two birdies and one bogey. After that he played solid the rest of the round by playing it at even par and ended up winning the event by four shots over the nearest competitor. The victory earned him an exemption into the prestigious Junior PGA Championship that is being held July 30 – August 2 at the Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Fallls, Virginia just outside of Washington D.C. The Junior PGA Championship past participants are a who’s who in the golf world including the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Michelle Wie, and Alexis Thompson just to name a few.
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Zhao Qualifies for Jr. PGA Championship
Some participants in the Golf Center of Excellence wrapped up their competitive schedule for the school year this past weekend at a FCWT event in Wisconsin. The tournament took place on Saturday at the Blackwolf Run Meadow Valleys course and concluded on Sunday at the Whistling Straits Irish Course. Our golfers attempted a practice round on Friday at the Irish Course but the weather did not cooperate as the golfers were only able to get in 12 holes because of the cold temperatures and rain/sleet. The weather made a complete change for the better on Saturday as the temperatures approached 65 with clear skies. Camden Nierman (2012) continued his solid play with an opening round 75 that consisted of 16 pars. That put him in 5th place heading into the final round and four shots behind the leader. Sam Eisenhuth (2014) played good back nine of 37 on the first day to come in with a 77 and in 11th place after round one. Sydney Brickey (2013) played well with four birdies in her opening round to post a 77 and 3rd place. Sophia Hill (2015) had and up and down round and came in with an 87.
The second day at the Irish Course had a bit more wind as the course sits on the banks of Lake Michigan. Camden Nierman was able to muster up three birdies during his round of which two came in the final three holes and post the lowest round of the day with an even par 72. With his nice round on Sunday he was able to push himself into the lead but had to wait for the final two groups to come in. As the next threesome came in he found himself still on top of the leaderboard. As the final group came in, two of the golfers were able to hold off Nierman’s late charge and he ended up finishing in 3rd place, one shot out of 2nd and 3 shots back of the winner. Sam Eisenhuth continued this solid play over his last three competitive rounds to shoot a final round 76 to move up the leader board to finish in 6th place. Sydney Brickey struggled with her putting but hung tough on the course and ended the day with an 81 to finish in 4th. Sophia Hill was able to better her opening round score by 5 shots with an final round 82 and end up in 6th place.
Congratulations also goes out to Shane Hoben (2016) as he was medalist over the weekend at the Staples Invite as he posted a round of 75. He took the medalist honors by edging out Jake Curwin (2013) in a score card playoff for the title. Nathan Zhao (2015) came in with a 78 as the SSM golf team captured its 4th consecutive team title of the season in its opening four events.
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Golfers wrap up at Whistling Straits
The Golf CoE headed down to a Plantations Junior Golf Tour this past weekend being held at the TPC Deere Run which annually hosts a PGA Tour stop. Camden Nierman who is completing his post graduate year at SSM took the individual title of overall champion with rounds of 76 – 73. This is Nierman’s first victory of the season and he becomes the 4th different individual for the Sabres to win an event at the national level this school year. He saved his best play for the final 9 holes in which he shot a 35 (1 under par) with a birdie on 17 and a par on the toughest hole on the course, the infamous number 18. Nierman has played solid all year with 4 top 10 finishes but this is a feather in his cap to capture the victory. Coach Higdon had the following comments: “We have made some significant changes with Camden’s and his game has been kind of up and down at times. But as you can see over his past two tournaments he really has things firing on all cylinders. His prior competitive round for the Sabres was a 69 (-3) and he carried the great play over to this tournament. I believe he is striking the ball the best he ever has and when we were talking on the range before the tournament he told me he was going to win this thing. He backed it up and that is exactly what he did!!” Sam Eisenhuth (2014) also saved his best for the last day by shooting an even par 71 on the final day vaulting him into a 5th place tie in the 50 player field. His 71 was the second best round of all the players in the tournament.
From the girls’ side, Sophie Hill (2015) had her best finish of the year with a 2nd place tie. She shot a final round 84 to follow up her opening round of 87. Sophie has consistently gotten better as the year has progressed and it is only a matter of time before she gets her first victory. Coach Higdon had the following to say about Hill’s performance. “As her scores prove, Sophie has been working really hard on her mechanics and it is paying off with her best two tournaments of the season coming most recently. Sophie has been working hard during our practice sessions but also putting the time and dedication in her strength and conditioning. Her final round of 84 could have easily been a lot lower. She is playing really well now and that is going to carry right over into her summer season.” Sydney Brickey (2013) hit the ball solid all weekend but just couldn’t get anything going on the greens. She shot rounds of 88 – 86 to finish in a 4th place tie.
These golfers don’t get much time to rest as they are heading to a FCWT event at Whistling Straits on May 4th and 5th. The weather forecast is for cold and rain so it will be a true test of mental and physical toughness.
Nierman tames the Deere
SSM Golfers made a huge impact on day 2 of the FCWT Plantion Inn in Crystal River, FL. Camden Nierman (2013) set a new Center of Excellence scoring record with a final round 69 (-3). He opened the front nine with a 31 (-5) and ended up shooting a 38 (+2) on the final nine holes to complete the tournament with a total of 144 and even par ending up in 5th place moving up 10 spots after the first day. Sam Eisenhuth (2014) made the largest improvement of the day with an 11 shot improvement from the first round. He shot a final round 71 (-1) with 9 hole scores of 34-37. This is Eisenhuth’s 2nd competitive round under par this season. Sophia Hill (2015) had her best scoring tournament of the season with rounds of 80-77 and a two-day total of 157 and a 6th place finish. Sydney Brickey (2013) also made a big jump with a 9 stroke improvement from her opening round by shooting a 77 in her final round. Jake Curwin (2013) shot rounds of 75-74 while Nathan Zhao (2015) had 76-75. Shane Hoben (2016) finished in 11th place in the Boys 13-15 age group with scores of 83-84.
Golfers Make Big Impact on Day 2
SSM Golfer crowd the middle of the leader board at the FCWT Plantation Inn event in Crystal River, FL. The golfers battled wind gusts all day long and couldn’t really get anything consistent going. Jake Curwin (2013) and Camden Nierman (2012) are both tied for 15th place after each shot 75 in the opening round of the two-day event. Nathan Zhso (2015) is one shot behind his teammates and in 22nd place after finishing with a 76. Sophia Hill (2015) is in 7th place after an opening round 80 and Shane Hoben is in 10th in the Boys 13-15 age group by shooting an 83. Sam Eisenhuth (2014) shot an opening round 82 and Sydney Brickey (2013) an 86 and look to make up some ground in day 2. There were some highlights on the day when Camden Nierman started out on fire and was -2 through 10 holes and was fighting for the lead. A string of bogeys coming in dropped him down a bit but he looks to stay strong all round tomorrow and shoot under par making a run at the leaders. Jake Curwin and Nathan Zhao were even par on holes 1 through 9 holes but the back nine got the best of them as well. Sophia Hill played consistent all day as she only had one double bogey on the day and was able to make 2 birdies. Shane Hoben played consistent as well but just wasn’t able to throw any birdies into his round. SSM Golfers get started at 7:39am EST on Sunday and all are eager to get back on the course to lower their scores on Sunday. There is a chance of rain tomorrow and this course offers the opportunity to shoot some good scores and they can apply some pressure with some good scores.
SSM Golfers in Middle of Pack
Nathan Zhao (2015) kept his consistent play in tact this past weekend at the Golf Center of Excellence traveled to sunny Florida to compete in the FCWT Mission Hills event just outside of Orlando, FL in Howey-in-the-Hills. After an opening round of 74 (+2) Zhao found himself in a tie for 2nd place, 4 shots behind the leader. During his first round, Nathan was up and down during his first nine holes with a 39 on the par 35. Zhao then hit the accelerator with 3 birdies on the back side and a 35 (-2) on the par 37 giving a total of 74. The final round had Zhao paired with the leader who attends a golf academy at Mission Hills which is his home course and facility. The plan on day 2 was for Zhao to play aggressive from the start to try and apply pressure with the conditions turning very windy. Nathan did just that coming out with a birdie on the first hole. Then his competitor birdied the 2nd hole to withstand the charge Zhao was applying. Nathan finished the front nine with 3 bogeys and a double, but then regained his composure to finish the back nine strong with a 36 (+1) and take sole position of 2nd place. Coach Higdon is very proud of Nathan and the rest of the team for their showing in Florida. Nathan showed great composure and his overall talent level by competing head to head with all of the kids whose home facility is Mission Inn. Those kids are out there practicing every day and know the ins and outs of the course. Our players showed their talent level and work ethic by competing with these kids stroke for stroke. Nathan finishing as runner-up along with Camden Nierman (2012) an Sam Eisenhuth (2014) finished in a tie for 7th which shows SSM and its players are contenders in any tournament we play. I am really proud of all of our players and their performance. We do have some practice and work to accomplish in the next 2 weeks before we head back down to Florida on February 21st.”
Sam Eisenhuth (2014) and Camden Nierman (2012) finished in a tie for 7th in the 55 player field. Both recorded rounds of 77 in the opening round without a birdie and had themselves in the hunt. Both shot the same round on the second day with 78′s and ended up only being 4 shots out of 2nd place. This was Nierman’s 3rd top 10 finish of this season and this marks the 2nd top 10 for Eisenhuth. With the 2nd place finish, Zhao moves into 5th place overall in the season points standings. Jake Curwin who shot rounds of 80,83 and finished in 24th sits in 8th place overall for the season while Eisenhuth is in 12th and Nierman makes a big jump into 17th.
Shane Hoben (2016) shot rounds of 82,85 for 7th place in the boys 13-15 age group. Hoben had 2 birdies during his opening round but was not able to muster up any during the final round. According to Coach Higdon this was Shane’s best performance of the year. “Score and finish wise, this may not have been Shane’s best performance of the season on paper, but I can tell you as far as striking the ball and his overall swing, this is by far his best performance of the season. I am proud of Shane as he set out to accomplish one goal of swinging with good tempo the entire tournament and he was able to do that. There is no doubt in my mind things are going to continue to get better this spring with Shane.”
Sydney Brickey and Sophia Hill competed for SSM in the girls division and finished in 15th and 18th place respectively. They both had opening rounds of 84 and were paired together during the final round in which Brickey shot 86 and Hill shot 89. Sometimes it can be more difficult when you are paired with a teammate or good friend during a competitive round as it adds many elements to the mix that is not common during tournament play. Hill who is going through a drastic transition with her swing did a great job of staying positive and accomplishing the goals she was looking for with her swing. Great things are on the horizon for this young lady.
The golfers have a short break before heading back down to Florida for a FCWT event on February 23rd and 24th at Plantation Inn which is in Crystal River, Florida just north of Tampa.
Zhao Runner-up at Mission Inn
Sam Eisenhuth(2014) fired and opening round 69(-1) to sit on top of the leader board at the FCWT Mission Hills event at the Pete Dye Course in Rancho Mirage, California. Eisenhuth didn’t waste any time as he birdied holes 1 and 3 to get to -2 quickly before making bogeys on holes 7 and 8 to make the turn at even par. He played solid the entire back nine and added a birdie on the par 3 16th hole to finish at -1. He is currently tied for 1st place with Matt Walling. Nathan Zhao(2015) is close behind Eisenhuth after shooting a 72(+2) for a 5th place tie and 3 shots behind the leaders. Jake Curwin(2013) who is the current FCWT point leader is only 4 shots back of the leaders with an opening round 73(+3). Camden Nierman(2012) looks to make a big jump on day two after an opening round 78.
Shane Hoben(2016) played solid during the opening round and shot a 78 to put him in a 7th place tie in the boys 13-15 age group. Sydney Brickey(2013) shot an opening round 78 and sits in 5th place in the girls division while Sophia Hill(2015) shot an opening round 86 and is in 9th place.
The SSM golfers will play round 2 on Sunday which starts at 7:30am pacific time. Eisenhuth will be in the final pairing and is scheduled to tee off at 9:27 pacific time.
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Eisenhuth Leading in California