New Pragues's Kenzie Neisen hit the ball from the 4th tee on the west course during the second day of the girls Class 3A golf tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids (Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune)
New Prague golf teammates Kenzie Neisen and Taylor Ledwein shared advice during state tournament practice rounds.
Neisen, the senior and defending Class 3A co-state champion, suggested clubs to hit. Ledwein, a sophomore who placed 10th a year ago, urged Neisen to relax.
“I told her if she had a bad hole, to picture me dancing so that would make her laugh,” Ledwein said.
Neisen’s steady play Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids produced a winning smile. Tied with last year’s other co-champion, Sarah Burnham of Wayzata, after Tuesday, Neisen’s finished one stroke (135-136) ahead of her.
“She wouldn’t say anything bad about tying, but she really wanted to win this,” said Ledwein, who tied for sixth with 150. “She played amazing; she is one of a kind.”
Neisen laughed about Ledwein’s method of visualization but said it wasn’t necessary. Burnham led by one stroke at the turn Wednesday, but Neisen reached another level on the final nine holes.
“The past two days my wedges and putting felt really good,” Neisen said. “I was trying to stay confident and aggressive with those.”
After chipping in on the third hole, Neisen carded a birdie to build momentum. A year ago, she tied Burnham by sinking a 15-foot putt on the final hole. This time, it was Burnham on the green with a chance to tie.
“I’m so happy for her,” said Burnham, who got a congratulatory kiss on the cheek from Neisen’s mother, Angie. Neisen said she would have been satisfied sharing the title with her good friend.
Burnham achieved her ultimate goal, however, leading Wayzata to the team championship. The Trojans shot a 622, 19 strokes ahead of runner-up Alexandria.
“It would have been fun to win this year, but I was here for my team,” Burnham said.
It was a team effort. Trojans coach Mike Schumacher said Madalyn Mrosak, his No. 6 golfer, “shot the best round of her career,” while No. 4 golfer Jenna Nelson “shot her best round of the year.”