2001: Minnesota states case in State Team Championships

It was a case of home-state advantage at the U.S. Golf Association’s Men’s and Women’s State Team Championships.

Three-player teams from Minnesota claimed both the men’s and women’s titles Sept. 23-25.

John Harris, Jered Gusso and John Carlson won the men’s title at the 6,818-yard, par-72 Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska. Claudia Pilot, Leigh Klasse and Julie Kalina-Jensen won the women’s title for Minnesota at the 5,922-yard, par-72 Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata.

In the men’s event, Minnesota edged Virginia by two shots. John Harris of Minneapolis led the way with a 1-under 215 total for the 54 holes. The team finished at even-par 432. The two low scores each day count for the team’s score.

“It’s very special,” said Harris, who added his second state team title to his resume. “I am proud to play for Minnesota.”

Harris, the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion, was on the winning Minnesota team in 1997.

Harris, who was the individual winner at 215, provided some guidance for his 22-year-old teammates, Gusso and Carlson.

“He said, ‘You’ve got it in you. We’re all here for each other,” said Carlson, who shot 4-over 220. “Just by that inspiration, knowing that he is caring about us, that’s what I drew from.”

Gusso shot 5-over 221 for the three rounds.

Through nine holes of the final day, Virginia held a five-shot lead before Minnesota rallied. On the back nine, Virginia’s Keith Decker shot 5 over; David Passerell shot even and Faber Jamerson shot 2 over. The team posted even-par 144 to Minnesota’s 145.

“We were playing well after nine holes and David played well all day,” said Decker. “I folded like a cheap suit and Faber lost a couple coming in too. We couldn’t get it in the hole, and the harder we tried the worse it got. Minnesota played well. They did a great job.”

It was the second consecutive runner-up finish for Virginia, which tied with Minnesota in 1999. Virginia won the event in 1995 and tied for fifth in 1997. It is the only team to finish in the top five in all four championships.

Fifty-two teams – all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia – were entered. Defending champion Texas tied for 20th.

In the women’s division, Minnesota led from the start en route to a nine-shot victory over Maryland, 449-458.

Pilot, of Austin, Minn., led the way by winning the individual title with a 4-over 220 for the 54 holes. New Jersey’s Sherry Herman was second overall with a 10-over 226.

With four holes to play on the final day, Minnesota only led by three strokes. However, Pilot played the final holes in even par for a 2-under 70. Teammate Kalina-Jensen played the final four holes in 1 under to finish with a 75.

“I was missing some shots,” said Kalina-Jensen. “Once I realized how close it was, I knew I had to get focused and play the way I know how to play.”

Kalina-Jensen finished at 229 and Klasse shot 242.

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia were represented. Defending champion Florida finished 14th. Alabama won in 1997 and Pennsylvania won in 1995.

Three-time USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Carol Semple Thompson led Pennsylvania to a ninth-place finish.

– From staff and wire reports

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