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Salina’s New Golf Star Grant Herrenbruck Wins Konza Prairie Amateur

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Fifty years ago Salina, Kansas native Bryan Norton was beginning his amateur and professional adventure in golf as a junior and collegiate champion.  He now has multiple championships and titles on his record, including three Kansas Amateur Match Play wins.    But now the north central Grant HerrenbruckKansas community has a new young golfer to follow and encourage.

16 year-old Grant Herrenbruck displayed mature talent and skills in early June when he rose above a strong field of Kansas amateurs of all ages to win the 2nd annual Konza Prairie Amateur Championship at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan.  For the 36 holes of Modified Stableford scoring format Herrenbruck booked a total of 4 points in the Prairie Fire Division, with his nearest competitor, Cole Gritton, at zero points.

Converting the points to strokes above or below par, Herrenbruck toured the difficult Flints Hills area golf course in 80-67-147, or just 3 over-par.  Notable was his round two comeback with seven birdies (that’s 14 Stableford points), four of which came on his first seven holes of the front nine.   His two bogies in the second round only cost him two Stableford points, so his -8 first round total improved by 12 points in the second round to get him the winning 4 point total.

The Salina youngster has two years of high school and junior golf remaining before Division 1 colleges will jockey for his letter of intent.  His performance last April in the Drive, Chip and Putt national event at Augusta National Golf Club may have been his “coming out” party.  Herrenbruck displays a considerable amount of confidence and it is obvious he has more growing to do, which will add more distance to his already impressive driving skills.   In the meantime, he holds the record for the youngest champion of the Konza Prairie Amateur.  As a 16 year-old champion, that record may stand for a very long time.

Cole Gritton, a spring high school graduate from Manhattan, was the only player to score in positive points in the first round.   His two under-par 70 earned him 6 Stableford points and gave him the overnight lead of seven points over Wichita’s Caleb Haight at -1 points.   Despite a first hole double bogey and -3 points, Gritton held on to finish the day at -6 points, resulting in a zero points total which was good enough for runner-up on the leaderboard.  Since Herrenbruck is still in Kansas high school and ineligible to receive the champion’s gift certificate Cory Jensenprize, that award went to Gritton.   That was certainly a welcome outcome for second place.

In the Flint Division of the competition, playing a slightly shorter set of tees, Cory Jensen of Hanover, KS, cruised Colbert Hills with a 6 over-par 78 in the opening round, giving him a -5 point total.  Veteran senior golfer Don Kuehn of Kansas City, shot one stroke better at 5 over-pay 77 but the Stableford scoring format put him also at -5.  Playing in the same group for the second round Kuehn could not keep pace with Jensen who shot 3 over-par 75 and a -1 points total, putting him at -6 points for the event.  Kuehn finished in second at -13 points.

The Flint Division also had a net competition which was handily won by Manhattan’s Ben Burton with 13 net points.

70 players experienced very difficult playing conditions at Colbert Hills on two weekend days punctuated by strong northerly winds and putting greens that had reclaimed their hard and fast nature after a very wet month of May.   The Modified Stableford scoring format is designed to help players when a ball finds its way into the many areas of high native grasses and is not found or is unplayable.  When a bogey putt is missed, the player picks up as double bogey and higher all receive the same number of point deductions from the total points earned.  This also helps with the pace of play.

The Konza Prairie Amateur Championship is conducted annually by the Kansas Golf Association with Colbert Hills Golf Course hosting the 36-hole championship the first week following Memorial Day.  So for 2017, mark your calendar for June 3-4.