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Local golfers make good use of opportunity to utilize caddies

So much for that heated rivalry between Rochester Lourdes and Byron.

Byron standout golfer Dom Kieffer had an interesting caddie this week during the 85th annual Minnesota State Junior Boys Championship at Rochester Golf and Country Club.

Kieffer employed the services of recent Lourdes graduate and fellow standout golfer Alex Shepherd. And the move paid off.

Lacking knowledge about the course and particularly the tricky greens at RGCC, Kieffer leaned on Shepherd often during the two-round event. Shepherd came in particularly handy during Thursday’s final round, helping Kieffer lining up a couple of birdie putts on the back nine during a round of 74, which allowed the smooth-swinging Bear to tie for fourth place overall.

Tying Kieffer for fourth at 149 (75-74) was the Lourdes tandem of Alex Kapraun and Nic Jensen — Kapraun swinging the clubs and Jensen carrying the bag.

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During the high school golf season, players aren’t allowed to utilize caddies. But for most summer events, it’s allowed, which created a fun, unique situation at this Minnesota Golf Association event.

"This was so much fun," Kieffer said. "You just feel free out there, not carrying the bag. Alex helped me a lot with lining up putts, because these greens are so hard to read."

Kapraun took a jab at his former teammate after he overslept for Thursday morning’s tee time. "Shepherd said he set his alarm for p.m. instead of a.m. and we were all calling him," Kapraun joked. "But this was so much fun. Me and Nic had a blast out there."

Kapraun, who had rounds of 75 and 74, also leaned on former coach and longtime mentor Tom Murphy.

"I played a practice round with Murph, and he’s played like 2,000 rounds out here," said Kapraun, who will play college golf in the fall at the University of St. Thomas. "He showed me the things I needed to know about the greens, and just showed me how to be smart out here and what mistakes kids usually make."

The fourth-place finish for Kieffer, who will be a senior at Byron in the fall, was a nice warmup for a much bigger event. He qualified for the United States Junior Amateur Championship near Seattle. Kieffer is scheduled to fly out today, and he’ll compete in 36 holes of stroke play. The field then cuts down to the top 64 and shifts to match play through the finals.

Kiefer carded a pair of 74s at the Chaska Town Course earlier this summer to earn his spot in the prestigious amateur event.

"I’m excited; there will be a lot of good kids there," Kieffer said. "It will be a great experience for me. My goal is to make the top 64 and get into match play and we’ll see what happens after that."

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Several other local players competed at this week’s junior event in Rochester, including a couple of Kieffer’s teammates. Connor Hedlund turned in back-to-back 75s to tie for sixth place, while Logan Bashaw tied for 11th after firing consecutive 76s. Byron’s Michael Espey tied for 101st with a pair of 86s.

Rochester Century’s Michael Klampe had a nice bounce-back round Thursday. After shooting 79 Wednesday, Klampe rallied with a 74 Thursday to tie for 16th place.

Preston’s Drew Bahl carded rounds of 81 and 87 to tie for 86th place, while Wabasha’s Fletcher Blaschko tied for 106th with rounds of 92 and 82. Rochester’s Cordie Walker did not turn in a card Thursday and Ryan Alexander withdrew from the event.

John Dutoit of Chanhassen was the overall champion. After rounds of 74 and 70, Dutoit defeated Karter Smith of Detroit Lakes with a par on the first playoff hole to earn the crown.

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