A late decision proved to be a good one for Braden Hoisington.
Hoisington, junior-to-be at Fort Zumwalt West, won the 20th Metropolitan Junior Amateur at St. Clair Country Club.
“This was a last-minute tournament (for me) so I didn’t have many expectations,” Hoisington said. “I was just going to show up and play my best.”
That was good enough. Hoisington hoisted the James M. Holtgrieve Trophy after rounds of 66-67 to finish with an 11-under 133.
Hoisington was tied after Monday’s opening round with Kolten Bauer.
He produced a bogey-free second round. Braden would go out in 32 (4 under) in Round 2 to separate himself from the field. That got him to 10 under and a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play. He added a birdie on the par 5 14th hole to finish at the 11-under total.
Bauer would come in at Runner-up after an Even par round in Round 2. A 6-under total over 36 holes was a good tournament for the incoming freshman at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.
“This is my first time playing in the tournament,” Hoisington said. “I have been playing and practicing a lot this summer. I put some good rounds together and had a couple good finishes in some out of state tournament but this was my first win of the season.
“Overall for the summer I was happy with how I have played but I had a rough week up in Quincy for the U.S. Junior Am qualifier when I shot a 76.”
He enjoyed playing at St. Clair Country Club.
“St. Clair was in great shape and it was definitely gonna be a tough week if you had wild tee shots and iron shots that were not consistent,” Hoisington said. “I had everything going for me that week so if you had everything then it was definitely set up to score well.”
He was happy shooting a 66 in the opening round. It was his best round ever.
It also helped him going into the second round.
“With the 66, I was just able to take advantage of the par 5’s and hit some close shots that led to birdies and an eagle,” Hoisington said. “The front nine was alright until the back allowed me to really go low.”
Shooting a 66 was special. However, Hoisington didn’t think about when he was playing.
“Really, I was just staying in the moment and taking everything one shot at a time so I never felt pressure or felt like I was on the verge of a great round,” Hoisington said.
Heading into the final round, Hoisington knew it was a two-man tournament.
“I felt confident going into Round Two because it was really just me and Kolten at the top,” Hoisington said. “I wasn’t going to push for tucked pins or make stupid decisions trying to get the edge on him. I had a lot of confidence coming of the 30 that I shot on the back nine so I felt I had the slight advantage even though we both shot 66.”
The final round 67 showed the first round was no fluke.
“The 67 was a result of great short game and putting,” Hoisington said. “I played solid and didn’t make mistakes that led to bogeys. I was looking to make as few mistakes as possible while still playing aggressive golf. I found that balance and it payed off.”
Having a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play took off any possible pressure Hoisington may have felt.
“I knew that I was 7 up on Kolten going into the last 9 holes so I felt I had it pretty secure as long as I kept up my good play,” Hoisington said. “I was very thrilled to have won because it isn’t every week that you are able to play your best and come out on top.”
The tourney title was not his first.
“I have had some luck in the past,” Hoisington said. “I play a lot of large tournaments that have a lot of good players which makes winning a rare but sweet occasion. Winning is what we all play for so when it comes it feels the best.”
Getting to meet Holtgrieve was special for Hoisington said.
“I am aware of his career and it is quite impressive,” Hoisington said. “He congratulated me and complimented me on my great rounds. It was awesome to meet him and talk to him for a while.”
Coming up before school, Hoisington has some tournaments planned.
“I have a couple of AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments coming up which are always awesome to play in,” Hoisington said.
“Hopefully, I will perform my best and get some good finishes out of them.”
In the girls’ championship, Momo Kikuchi held her first-round lead to solidly have her name added to the Barbara A. Berkmeyer Trophy.
Kikuchi, with rounds of 80-82 for a 162, will be a senior at Pattonville this fall. Briana McMinn, an O’Fallon High School product, would finish in runner-up position. McMinn, with her sister and 2018 Girls’ Junior Amateur champion, Alyssa, on the bag, had rounds of 84-83 for a 167 to finish five strokes back of Kikuchi.
In the boy’s age 14-15 division, Kal Kolar would come away with the title. Kolar, played in the final group after opening with a 2-under round of 70. He would finish up with 77 in Round 2 to beat out Cy Norman by two shots in the division.
In was all in the family in the age 12-13 divisions. The McLaughlin family has some new hardware to display. Avery McLaughlin won the Girls’ 12-13 Division with bookend 77’s over the two days. Luke McLaughlin took runner-up honors on the Boy’s 12-13 side.