Robert Bell has a goal for the 2008 boys' golf season and it won't be easy.
The Pierz Pioneer wants to improve upon what he did last year. Simple enough except Bell was the second-ranked Class 1A golfer in the state with a scoring average of 71.0. He placed second in his first state tournament with rounds of 79 and 75 for a 154. The only player ranked ahead of Bell was Virginia's Casey Hill, who averaged 70.3 per round. It was Hill's two-round 151 that topped Bell at state.
If summer success is any indication to what this spring holds, Bell's goal is doable.
The senior placed eighth at the Minnesota Junior Boys' Championship at Grand View Lodge's Preserve course with rounds of 78-78. He represented Minnesota in the Minnesota/Wisconsin Cup and the Minnesota/Manitoba Canadian Cup. He made the cut in the MGA State Amateur Championship and finished tied for 58th.
Bell recorded enough points during the summer to be named the Minnesota Junior PGA Player's Tour Player of the Year.
Pierz's Robert Bell hit an approach shot during the Class 1A state boys' golf tournament last season at Izatys. Bell finished second in the state last year and is one of the top returning players in the state.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"I'm actually very confident coming into the season," said Bell. "I think I can do big things. Being second at state last year and then last summer being named player of the year it means a lot coming into this season."
Last year Bell set the Pierz school scoring record twice. The final time he shot a 4-under-par 68 at Prairie View Golf Course in Brooten. He won the Central Minnesota Conference and Section 5-1A titles before heading to state.
The list of wins and accomplishments should grow this season and with it the pressure to beat all comers. It's a pressure Bell wants.
"I actually like it a lot," he said. "I love having a target on my back. I love when people look at me as a good player and try and beat me. That's always been a goal of time.
Sport: Boys' golf
Key stat: Finished second in last year's Class 1A state tournament
"When I was growing up I would always hear about or play against these guys that were ranked in the state. I always looked up those people. Now people are looking up to me. To me that's a great accomplishment."
This season Pierz will be in Section 6-2A after the Minnesota State High School League expanded golf from two classes to three. Virginia and Hill, who is also a senior, also jumped up to Class 2A.
Pierz has juiced up its schedule with the two-day Pequot Lakes Invite at Grand View's Pines and Preserve courses and the two-day Virginia Invite at Giants Ridge to go with the usual CMC tournaments.
The site of the 2A state tournament is the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. Bell's never played there, but said he'll play a few rounds at the Ridges before the state tournament.
"I haven't looked at our section, but you're going to have to play well to make it state," said Bell. "I'm confident I can make it, but it takes a lot to make a state run. You've got to get there first so you just take one step at a time."
That will be Bell's mental approach, one tournament and one shot at a time. Despite his success, Bell isn't taking anyone or anything for granted. That mindset helped Bell to a great 2007 season.
"I don't get frustrated easily," he said. "I keep my composure well. I forget about the bad shot and just keep playing and get up and down. If I hit a bad drive or a bad second shot, it's just a matter of getting up and down. The short game is where you cut all your strokes."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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