Ben Greve hangs on for dramatic win at MGA State Amateur golf tourney

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Ben Greve had won just about every local golf tournament there is to win – but finally claimed a missing jewel in his Minnesota golf crown with a one-stroke victory at the 119th MGA State Amateur Championship at Olympic Hills in Eden Prairie.

“In Minnesota there’s this and the State Open. I had never won this. Had a few top fives, but never really close,” Greve said after the win. “It’s awesome, right? At 41, I’d never won this one… didn’t think I ever would, but it’s just awesome.”

Click the video box on this page to watch KSTP Sports’ post-round interview with 2022 MGA Amateur Champion Ben Greve

After shooting a blistering opening round 6-under 66, Greve carded a 1-over 73 on Tuesday to carry a five-stroke lead into Wednesday’s final round.

“You know, it doesn’t sound that old but I’m 41 and I haven’t been playing well the last few years… to do it here with all the friends following along and – to be honest – I was just grinding coming in at the end. It took all the energy I had because I didn’t have my game today.”

2022 Minnesota Golf Association State Amateur Champion Ben Greve

Greve had still maintained a three-shot lead going to the 18th tee but in the end, the former Gopher needed a nervy three-foot double-bogey putt to secure the win. It was his only double bogey the entire three-round tournament.

He finished +2 for the tourney, weathering a 7-over 79 in the final round for a one-shot win.

“On the back nine… no matter what I did I was in some tough spots,” Greve lamented. “But I guess in a few years or a month even, I won’t even remember the last couple holes.”

Greve’s wife – Gopher women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen – was among the supporters in the Olympic Hills gallery sweating out the win.

Greve held off a trio of collegiate golfers for the win. Miami, Ohio grad student Jack Ebner (Edina) finished second at +3, one stroke ahead of Iowa sophomore Ian Meyer (Deephaven) and Bethel senior Conor Schubring (St Louis Park) at +4.

Also in the final group with Greve was reigning State High School champ Sam Udovich, who won the Class AA individual title this spring as a 15-year-old freshman at St Croix Lutheran. He made a run at becoming the youngest-ever Minnesota State Amateur champ.

“They’re so good,” Greve said of the latest generation of MInnesota golfers. “The last few years when I’ve played, I loved playing with the kids. Sam (Udovich) is gonna be fantastic. We’re gonna be watching him on TV some day. I love it.

“It’s fun that in golf you can still do that at 41. It probably drives them crazy with the old man game and bunting it around and still beat them, right? There’s a lot of fun in that. That’s what’s great about golf and amateur golf altogether.”

RELATED: (Minnesota Golf Association) Greve Hangs on to Win First MGA Amateur Championship

Among his many tournament wins, Greve adds the 2022 State Amateur to victories at the 2012 MGA Players Championship, the 2016 MGA Mid-Players Championship and back-to-back Minnesota State Open wins in 2017 and 2018. He was the MGA Player of the Year in 2018.

He also won the MSHSL Class A individual title in 1999 at Annandale High School before playing college golf at Minnesota, where he was a key cog in the Gophers 2002 NCAA National Championship team.

Greve played professional golf on the PGA’s Canadian Tour from 2008-2011, but re-established his amateur status in 2014.

According to the MGA, he’s won 12 tournaments since re-joining the amateur ranks in 2014.

He’s only the second golfer to win the MGA State Amateur on his home course, and already has an inside track on a potential title defense in 2023.

“This place (Olympic Hills) is phenomenal, but it’s nice to have some local knowledge because it’s tough,” Greve said. “I also was a member at Minneapolis Golf Club a long time, which is where (the State Amateur) is next year. Looking at the calendar, they were probably the last chances I might have.”