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Golf: Red Wing girls secure Big Nine championship

Red Wing's Stephanie Herzog, chipping on hole No. 18 at Mississippi National Golf Links Tuesday, won Big Nine Conference championship medalist honors for the third straight year after carding a round of 70. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Red Wing's Sophia Yoemans putts for birdie on hole No. 18 at Mississippi National Golf Links during the Big Nine Conference championship meet on Tuesday. Yoemans finished second overall with a 71. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
In a hard drizzle, Red Wing's Leah Herzog chips on the fairway on hole No. 18 at Mississippi National Golf Links during Tuesday's Big Nine Conference championship meet. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The Red Wing girls' golf team remains atop the Big Nine Conference perch

Since re-entering the Big Nine in 2014-15, the Wingers have been conference champions. And with a team score of 310 in Tuesday's conference championship at Mississippi National Golf Links, Red Wing was once again christened as the Big Nine's best.

“It's always fun to win the conference, especially since it was at our home course,” said senior Stephanie Herzog, who wrapped up her third straight Big Nine individual championship with a score of 70. “It was nice not having to drive anywhere.”

The Wingers' 310 was 23 strokes better than second-place Rochester Mayo's 333. Northfield was third with 334.

This is the fourth straight conference title for Red Wing, with the last three Big Nine championship and the final Missota Conference title in 2014.

While the home-course advantage certainly helped, the combination of drizzle and recently-cut greens made putting a challenge throughout the day.

“It was tough to gauge the speed of the greens,” said Sophia Yoemans, who was second overall with a 71. “I hit the ball well, hit 16 greens, but my putting was rough. I had a lot of short birdie putts but I couldn't make any of them. But hitting the ball was good, which is promising for sections.”

Red Wing head coach Mark Herzog added, “We did struggle around the greens. Stephanie had a couple three-putts, Sophia must have had three or four, and Leah (Herzog) had three or four (three-putts) and a four-putt.”

Normally a better player in the front nine at MNGL, Stephanie fared better in the back half of her round, courtesy of the conditions on Tuesday.

“Right away I was shaky. But once I adjusted to wearing the rain glove and got more of a feel for the greens, I played well,” Stephanie said. “On the back, I was two under and didn't have a bogey on the back.”

Leah carded an 80, which was good for sixth individually. The threesome of Stephanie, Yoemans and Leah were named to the All-Conference team.

Sydney Flack finished up the team score with an 89, followed by Ava Bremseth's 92 and Emily Otteson's 96.

“They've done a really good job,” Mark said of the back end of his lineup. “That score by Ava on the back was really good, and Emily and Sydney have been more consistent getting around bogey, which is good.”

Now, the focus shifts from the conference season to section play as the Wingers get ready for the two-day Section 1AAA championship, which begins June 1 and concludes June 5 at the Cannon Golf Club in Cannon Falls.

“Cannon definitely has more trouble (than MNGL) in that there's a lot of holes you can't hit driver,” Yoemans said. “You have to get used to the clubs you hit off the tee. I'm sure we'll play some practice rounds there and get more comfortable.”

Stephanie added, “Right now we're taking it a day at a time and keeping our minds focused on what we can control. We can control our own mental game and taking it a shot at a time and doing our best. We can't control the outcome.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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