Will play Saturday in Lake Creek tourney
Storm Lake junior Aaron Clausen established himself as one of the top prep golfers in Iowa in late May at the Class 3A state meet.
He fired the fourth best score in the field, tying for sixth place with a 74-72 -146. He finished just four strokes behind 3A champion Wade Pettitt of Carroll.
For Clausen, it was the start of a summer of playing in prestigious junior tournaments with some of the top young golfers in Iowa and the nation.
Three weeks ago at the Nike Series Championship in Portland, Ore., Clausen tied for fourth in an elite field of players. He shot a subpar round of 80 on the first 18 holes, but came back strong the second day with a career-best 70.
Last week, Clausen just missed qualifying for the U.S. Golf Association's (USGA) Junior Amateur Tournament at the Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, S.D. He finished fourth overall, firing a 73 the first day and coming back with a 75 the next day.
Just the top two finishers in that event qualified for the national USGA event.
"It was an up and down tournament for me," Clausen said Sunday night. "I had eight birdies and an eagle, so I had a few double bogeys, too.
"I'm not playing bad right now, and my short game is improving a lot. I'm not striking the ball as well as I did during the high school golf season. If I can put those two facets of the game together, my scores will be better."
This week, Clausen will play in two events closer to home. Today and Wednesday, he's competing in the Iowa Golf Association's Junior Amateur Tournament at the Ames Country Club.
"I have a shot at winning (in Ames) if I can put together a couple good rounds," he said. "The course isn't as difficult as some of the courses I've played this summer, but you still have to be accurate off the tee."
Saturday at Lake Creek, he'll be playing against amateurs of varied age levels, including some of the better college golfers in the area.
"Some of the top amateurs in the state will play Saturday," he added. "And it will be nice to play a tournament on a course I'm really familiar with."
The steady diet of tough competition has helped Clausen learn how to play under pressure, where the stakes are high on every shot.
"I try not to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "With every tournament I play in, I learn something new. I'm getting to be a better player, and that's what my real goal is."
Clausen added that the rigorous tournament schedule this summer should prepare him well to step into the No. 1 player role next spring for the Tornado varsity.
"We think we have a chance to to make it to state as a team next year, that's a goal we're all working toward," he said.
Last season, the Storm Lake boys won the Lakes Conference golf title for the second consecutive season. They finished 8-0 in Lakes Conference competition.
The Tornadoes lost seniors Jay Severson, Ben Thompson and Adam Ponsor, but return Zach Petersen, Kyle Nielsen and Kyle Nitchals off the 2005 team.
"We have high expectations for next spring," Clausen added.