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Yoemans wins title at Minnewaska, Osakis’ Eldred ties for fifth

Sophia Yoemans digs herself out of a bunker Wednesday during the Minnesota Girls Junior PGA Championship at Minnewaska Golf Club. Yoemans shot an even-par 144 over the two-day tournament to claim the title. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)1 / 2
Osakis' Alayna Eldred putts on the 18th green Wednesday during the Minnesota Girls Junior PGA Championship at Minnewaska Golf Club. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)2 / 2

When Sophia Yoemans found a pair of hazards and carded back-to-back double bogeys on Wednesday, her chances at the Minnesota Girls Junior PGA Championship came to a turning point.

“I had some really bad (holes),” the Red Wing native said. “I could have easily folded and finished with like an 80 or something. But I came back, and you have to forget what’s in the past and look forward… I kind of had a bad streak, but then I came back from that on the back nine.”

Yoemans had a lead to fall back on after shooting a 71 on Tuesday. The University of Missouri commit then finished the tournament comfortably in first with a 73 on Wednesday, taking the two-day tournament at the Minnewaska Golf Club with an even-par 144. Yoemans also clinched her second straight title and a spot at the national championship July 9-12 in Lexington, Ky.

“I obviously wanted to do well, but I kind of didn’t think about winning last year because then I would get too caught up in my score,” Yoemans said. “I just took it one shot at a time and didn’t worry about my score and winning last year.”

Osakis’ Alayna Eldred finished tied for fifth overall, following up Tuesday’s 75 with an 80 on Wednesday for an 11-over 155. It came after a disappointing 161 at the state tournament one week prior.

“After state, my confidence in my game took a pretty big hit, so it was important to come out here and try to redeem myself,” Eldred said. “I did play well (Tuesday), but I wasn’t pleased with my game (Wednesday). So I’ll just keep working.”

Five straight bogeys from holes Nos. 8-12 did in Eldred on Wednesday, counteracting birdies on both No. 5 and No. 14. She attributed much of her problems to the driver.

“I wasn’t driving the ball all that well,” she said. “I hit about six greens in regulation, which is tough to score, only hitting six greens. That was probably the biggest downfall.”

Still, Eldred said the tournament was a step in the right direction.

“I’m working on a lot of things right now, and I did see some positivity,” she said. “I am seeing good things start to happen. It was a good tournament to remind me I can still play golf.”

Yoemans, meanwhile, continued a dominant run that includes a record-breaking Class AA state title from last week where she shot 15-under. After firing a one-under 71 on Tuesday -- the only sub-par round at the tournament -- she carded a 73 Wednesday to win by five strokes.

Yoemans drained three straight birdies on holes Nos. 13-15, and it came on top of an eagle on No. 6. A one-under 35 on the back nine kept her in first place, ahead of high school teammate Leah Herzog.

Herzog shot a 74 Tuesday and a 75 Wednesday for a two-day score of 149. It was three strokes clear of Isabella McCauley in third place, meaning Herzog will join Yoemans at the national championship in Lexington.

“I’m super excited, especially because I get to go with Leah, who’s my teammate and best friend,” said Yoemans. “We’re really excited to go to Kentucky.”

For Minnewaska, Annika Stensrud finished with a 166 to tie for 15th while Leah Skaar tied for 20th with a score of 170. Madi McGinty carded a 172 for a share of 23rd, and Emily Harste came in 47th with a 192.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

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