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Tea Area’s Keeton Newborg fends off late challengers for Class A boys golf title

Newborg was part of a four-way tie atop the leaderboard after Monday concluded but outperformed the other three co-leaders on Tuesday to claim the individual crown, while Vermillon had the low team score on both days of the tournament and sailed to the team title.

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ABERDEEN — With a four-way tie atop the leaderboard and an additional 10 competitors within four strokes of the lead after the first round of the Class A boys golf state championships, Tuesday was poised to produce an anxious, pressure-filled conclusion to the season.

It did just that.

Tea Area’s Keeton Newborg, one member of the four-way first-place tie at Monday’s end, opened up a four-stroke lead on the rest of the field at one point on the back nine but had to fend off several late surges — most notably by Chamberlain's Dakota Munger and West Central’s Trey Even — to take down the Class A individual crown at Moccasin Creek Country Club.

Though he started Day 2 with a bogey on Hole 1, Newborg shaved four strokes off his front-nine performance from Day 1 to shoot a 35. Then Newborg, who tied for fifth place at last year’s state tournament, backed it up with a 36 on the back nine for a two-day total of 145 strokes, 15 fewer than the 160-stroke score (back-to-back 80s) he posted in the 2021 event at the Madison Golf and Country Club.

A fellow Day 1 leader alongside Newborg, Munger finished tied for second place at 148 strokes with Even, who started Day 2 three strokes back. Munger, a junior, posted 74-stroke rounds both days to improve on an eighth-place tie at 162 strokes last season. Meanwhile, Even, a senior who tied for 19th place last season at 170, matched Newborg’s hot round with a 1-under 71 Tuesday after a 77 on Day 1.

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After Newborg had opened up a four-stroke lead, Munger carded an eagle on the par-5 14th hole as Newborg recorded a bogey, narrowing the gap to a single stroke with four holes to play

Two holes later, after two Newborg pars and one par and one bogey by Munger, Even momentarily drew level with the leader on the back of eight straight bogey-less holes that included an eagle on Hole 14 — the only eagle by the entire field across both days by someone other than Munger — and a birdie on Hole 16.

But bogeys by Even on both of the final two holes restored a two-stroke cushion at the top before Newborg hit his final tee shot. Newborg punctuated the second round the same as he had the first, with a birdie on Hole 18 securing the individual championship.

Trey Hansen, the third Day 1 leader, paced team champion Vermillion with a fourth-place finish at 149 strokes, while a pair of Sioux Falls Christian golfers — Eli Anema and last year’s individual state champion Kaleb Jost — tied for fifth at 150. Tea Area’s Derek Andersen (151), Aberdeen Roncalli’s Finn Anderson (152), St. Thomas More’s Vincent VanLiere (153) and Vermillion’s Cooper Girard (153), the fourth and final Day 1 leader, rounded out the top-10 individual finishers.

Parkston’s Payton Koehn improved by two strokes from Day 1 to Day 2 and finished with a two-day total of 154 strokes, good for 11th place. Karson Keiser, Winner Area’s top finisher, dropped 11 strokes off his score from the first day (tied for the biggest day-to-day improvement among the top 40 with Flandreau’s Alfie Henderson), shooting a Day 2 78 to finish in a four-way tie for 36th place.

In the team race, Vermillion cruised to its first title since 2007, as a 16-stroke advantage after Day 1 grew to 24 strokes by the tournament’s end. The Tanagers, who placed third at 12 strokes off the pace in 2021, finished with a two-day total of 614 behind the top overall team scores from both rounds, 304 and 310.

Second-place Aberdeen Roncalli posted a team score of 638 to improve from fourth place a season ago. Dakota Valley and Sioux Valley had 645 strokes each to tie for third place, with West Central (646) one stroke back to round out the top five teams. Chamberlain (680), Winner Area (703) and Parkston (742) finished in eighth, ninth and 11th, respectively. Despite having the first, seventh and 40th individual placers, 2021 team champion Tea Area only had three competitors and could not defend its title.

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