Woodbury boys golf: Wareham goes out strong, takes seventh in state
Woodbury's Nate Wareham saved his best for last.
Wareham, a senior, finished in seventh place out of 88 competitors in the Class AAA State Tournament, held June 12 and 13 at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids. Wareham shot a white-hot 1-under-par 71 on the final 18 holes of the two-day, 36-hole tournament to finish in seventh place - just six strokes back of the leader.
Wareham said he was surprised with how well he played.
"Given how hard the course was, that was probably my best round ever competitively," he said. "I thought I was playing well near the end of the year, but I just kept getting better."
On the par-72 course, Wareham - a team captain and two-time All-Conference player for the Royals - carded a 77 on the first day and a 71 on the second day for a 148 total. Moorhead senior Ben Welle and Chaska senior Jon Dutoit tied for the Class AAA individual state crown with matching 142 scores. In the team competition, Moorhead ran away with the Class AAA state championship, shooting a 599. Minnetonka was a distant second with a 613. Defending state champion Rogers took fourth place with a 626. Individually, Welle's 36-36--72 on the second day was a stroke worse than Wareham's final round. Dutoit had a 36-37--73 on the last 18 holes, two strokes more than Wareham, whose seventh-place finish also bested defending state champion, Forest Lake junior Max Kelly, who took 10th place with a 150.
"I was pretty focused the whole week," Wareham said. "It was really nice to have my coach there, walking with me on every hole, helping me make the right choices on what to hit and make sure I didn't do anything too dumb."
Woodbury head coach Mike Anderson said Wareham was playing "some great golf" heading into the state tournament.
"He worked extremely hard this year to improve his game," Anderson said. "Being able to watch the golf he played was very impressive. I am very proud of his accomplishments and it was a pleasure to walk along with him for two days at state."
In his final two tournaments, both at Bunker Hills, Wareham made a habit of finishing strong. To qualify for state, Wareham shot a scorching 33 on the back nine of Bunker Hills on the last day of the two-day, 36-hole Section 3AAA Championship Tournament. Out of section play, only one team advances to state, based on the two-day total, along with five individuals not on the top team. As a team, Woodbury qualified for the second day, but took fifth place overall with a 654 total at sections, held between Keller Golf Course and Bunker Hills. Individually, Wareham shot a first-day 77, then came back with a 2-over-par 74 at Bunker Hills for a 151 total - the second-best score overall - to earn a trip to the state tournament.
"The course was really, really nice for the state tournament," Wareham said. "It seemed almost like a home course for me, because we had played it so many times prior to the state tournament. When I came to a certain hole I could think back to practice rounds and sections and know that I could hit certain shots."
Wareham said his goal was to finish inside the top 10 at the state tournament.
"After the first day I thought I had a chance," he said. "I wanted to shoot a 72 on the second day and ended up shooting one better. I just went out and tried to play the best I could. Even after I finished I didn't know where I'd fall. But, it ended up pretty good. I was really happy with it."
Wareham played three years of varsity golf for Woodbury. He was also a standout player for the Woodbury boys hockey team and ran cross country for the Royals for two years. He said finishing his high school career at the state golf tournament was a nice ending.
"It was just a really good experience in high school," Wareham said. "I had two different coaches that helped me out tremendously and taught me a lot about the game. It was a lot of fun and a great way to go out."