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Healthy Sauer picks up the pace in junior shootout; Kikuchi leading girls field

Healthy Sauer picks up the pace in junior shootout; Kikuchi leading girls field

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OAKLAND — Colby Sauer found out the hard way golf is a lot more fun with 10 healthy toes.

The sophomore-to-be at De Smet bounced back from a bizarre March foot injury to post a 3-over-par 71 on Monday in the opening round of the 21st Metropolitan Junior Amateur Championship at Westborough Country Club.

Sauer sits in a three-way tie for third place in the boys division of 36-hole, two-day affair, which will conclude on Tuesday.

Ryan Walsh and Jack Wooldridge carded 1-over 69s to share the lead.

Sauer shined during an up-and-down round that featured four birdies and a pair of double bogeys.

“It’s been a while since I had a good tournament score,” Sauer said. "This feels pretty good."

Sauer suffered a broken toe while “messing around" in his basement three months ago.

But the injury didn’t slow him down. He competed in a tryout for the De Smet high school team with a boot on his foot. Sauer fired a 3-over during the qualifying session, which was good enough to earn him a spot on the Spartans junior varsity squad before the season was canceled.

“It wasn’t that big a deal, about a four-week recovery period, pretty easy,” Sauer said. “It might still be a little bruised, but it hasn’t bothered me at all.”

The 15-year-old sits atop the standings in the boys 14-15 year-old division and holds a four-stroke lead over Aidan O’Keefe.

The fact Sauer is in contention for the overall title speaks volumes about his future at De Smet.

“I feel good about my game,” said Sauer, who calls Meadowbrook Country Club his home course. “I’ve been playing really well lately.”

Sauer can look back now and laugh at his injury.

“I was playing mini basketball, just goofing around,” he said. “I can tell you that won’t happen again.”

Sauer posted a 3-under score in a tournament in Oklahoma earlier this month. He put together several more impressive outings before Monday’s effort.

“My driver just came to play today,” Sauer said.

Sauer was 1-under through 12 holes after recording back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11-12. He then posted a pair of 6’s on two of the last four holes with a birdie sandwiched in between.

“When I look at it, I’m happy with the round,” he said. “But it could have been so much better — that’s the bad part.”

Walsh, who will be a junior at Chaminade in the fall, recorded four birdies to share the top spot. He was 2-under though the first 13 holes. Walsh is coming off a win in a Gateway PGA Tour event last week at The Quarry at Crystal Springs.

Wooldridge, who will be a sophomore at Westminster, closed strong with a pair of birdies on the back nine.

The tournament, which is part of the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association, features some of the top junior players in the area.

Momo Kikuchi, a recent Pattonville High grad, took control of the girls division with a 5-over-par 75 — good enough for a 10-shot lead over Briana McMinn.

“I had never played this course before and there were a few holes where I made the wrong (decision),” Kikuchi said. “Beyond that, I was hitting the ball well. Tomorrow will be better for me.”

Kikuchi was playing in her first tournament of the season. She spent most of the past few months maintaining social distancing, playing only a few practice rounds with family members.

“It felt good to get out,” Kikuchi said. “I knew where my shots were going and they worked out pretty well.”

Kikuchi found the sand three times in each of her final three holes, but was able to avoid any serious disaster.

She recently committed to play college golf at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She also considered Georgia and Fordham before choosing to stay home.

“I want to be in a place where I’ll be able to play and also be an important contributor to a team,” Kikuchi said.

Addy Surber leads the girls 12-13 division with a 15-over-83.

Wynston Weiler tops the boys 12-13 grouping.

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