Joseph Bigger’s medalist round paces four local qualifiers for the MGA Amateur Championship

Bigger, a 2020 Alexandria Area High School graduate and Minnesota State University-Mankato golfer, shot a 3-under par 69 on his home course on June 22 and used an eagle on the par-4 second hole to jumpstart a win that qualifies him for his first MGA Amateur Championship this July.

Alexandria's Joseph Bigger watches his approach shot during the 2020 Resorters Tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club. Bigger was back on his home course at AGC on June 22, 2021 where he shot a 3-under par 69 to win an 18-hole qualifier that secured his first-ever appearance at the Minnesota Golf Association's state amateur championship from July 19-21 in Maple Grove. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The Alexandria Golf Club hosted a qualifier on June 22 with entries up for grabs in the Minnesota Golf Association’s Amateur championship, and four local golfers played their way into the top-eight qualifying spots.

Alexandria’s Joseph Bigger led that group. Bigger, 20-years old and a freshman on the Minnesota State University-Mankato men’s golf team this past school year, went under par with a 69 to win medalist honors at AGC. His round included a birdie on No. 1 and an eagle on the par-4 second hole.

“The driver was really good that day,” Bigger said. “With it being the home course, I was kind of hitting driver on every hole but the par threes. My tee shot on one was just front, left of the green, so I had a pretty easy up and down for birdie. Kind of the same thing on two, and I just got lucky and the ball went in the hole when you don’t expect it to.”

Holes one and two at AGC are par 4s that play a little over 300 yards from the blue and black tees. Bigger has driven the green on No. 2 and made eagle with a putt before, but he has never chipped in from nearly 30 yards out on the hole like he did during the qualifier.

“I think a lot of it is I’ve played that course so many times growing up that the confidence was already kind of built from the start,” he said. “The tournament didn’t change my mindset. I wasn’t going to start hitting iron off a tee when I hit driver there every time I play. But definitely making a two there gets that momentum going and sets the tone for the rest of the round.”


Bigger added birdies at Nos. 8, 10 and 18 as he held off Daryl Schomer of the Wapicada Golf Club. Schomer, a multiple-time champion at the Resorters match-play tournament in Alexandria, shot a 70 in the qualifier to finish second.

Andrew Olson of the Geneva Golf Club tied for fourth in the tournament with a 72. Alexandria Golf Club members Lukas Bigger -- Joseph’s older brother -- and Noah Boraas secured the last two qualifier spots as they finished in a three-way tie for sixth at AGC with rounds of 73. Sean Lehman of the Alexandria Golf Club and James Lehman of Windsong Farm finished in the first two alternate spots for the MGA Amateur championship as they shot 73 and 74, respectively.

“It kind of just shows that Alex builds golfers,” Joseph Bigger said of the local qualifiers. “Yeah, this might have been on a home course, but to have four out of eight people make it into the championship with people coming from the cities and all over, it definitely says something.”

Bigger went into the tournament feeling like his game was in a good place after working through what he called a tough first college season this past spring.

“I’ve been playing a bunch and just haven’t quite had things click like I wanted them to until the last couple weeks,” he said. “That’s one big thing going into this qualifier that helped a lot is my confidence was at an all-time high. I knew the ball was going where I wanted it to.”

Bigger said the greens were playing firm and fast on June 22. It wasn’t a course where players could expect to attack the pin and have the ball stick.

“I wasn’t too shocked that I won it because I went in with the mindset that this is my home course. I’m going to kind of put my name out there,” Bigger said. “I was just kind of shocked to see that the scores were higher than I thought. I didn’t think 3-under was going to win it, but obviously it did. It definitely feels good to get a chance to do it again at Rush Creek for the championship.”

The MGA Amateur typically draws 700-800 entries a year before 10 or more qualifying sites around the state determine the starting championship field at 156 golfers.


This year’s amateur championship is being played at Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove from July 19-21. Frankie Capan of the North Oaks Golf Club won the 2020 championship after shooting a 12-under par 204 through the three-day event.

Bigger has never played at Rush Creek before. He said the plan is for the Alexandria qualifiers to go to Maple Grove together to get in a couple of rounds before the tournament. It will be part of a busy stretch of the summer for Bigger as he also plans on playing in the Men’s Championship Division at the 100th Resorters Golf Tournament at AGC the first week in August.

Many of the best amateur golfers in the state will play in the MGA Championship, making it a competitive field that Bigger is excited to be a part of for the first time.

“I want to win, but it’s going to be a tough field and I know the course is going to be tough,” Bigger said. “(My goal) is just playing the best that I can and making sure I just commit to every shot. As long as I come out of it knowing I left it all out there, it will be a good first experience. That’s all you can really ask for.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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