Christensen wins State “AA” boys golf championship as a freshman

Harrisburg freshman would like to play big-time college golf
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 11:44 PM CDT
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MITCHELL, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Riley Christensen first had a golf club in his hand at the age of one. “It’s selfish but I didn’t really want to rely on a team. I didn’t want to blame someone else when I could just blame myself and I could put more work in to fix that.” Christensen says.

And he had one of the best teachers to learn from in his father, former Marquette golfer Justin. “We’d bring him out on the golf course a little bit and he’d like it a little bit but nothing crazy. And then he was watching the US Open one summer it it just kind of clicked and he went to the driving range the next day.” Justin says.

Yet when Riley began to play competitively, he was pretty far from the top. “I kind of got last in every tournament! People don’t understand how hard it is to become great at this game. It is so hard and mentally it is so tough to just stay in there.” Riley says.

“He keeps getting better every year and, as you get up to these kinds of levels, it’s tougher to get better every year and it seems like even as a seventh grader he was impressing people just making the varsity team.” Justin says.

That showed even before the freshman tee’d up his first shot at this year’s State Meet in Mitchell. “He qualified for the “Drive, Chip & Putt” and he made it to the finals in Colorado. He was two spots away from going to Augusta. He’s got a great short game, chipping, putting, all-around good game.” Harrisburg Head Golf Coach Mark Beckstrand says.

On day one Christensen shot a remarkable four under par 68. Though he’d struggle a bit more the following day, Riley fended off the rest of the board, shooting an even par 72 to win the state title. “He doesn’t really think about the failure side of things when he’s out there on the golf course. Just coming down to the last couple holes mom and dad were thinking about how is this thing going to go wrong for us?! And he’s just piping it down the middle and birdieing the last hole.” Justin says.

Once driven to succeed, Riley relished being a part of a Tiger squad that capture the team title on the same course his father’s Lincoln Patriot team won the state championship 21 years ago. “It feels amazing! We’ve dealt with a lot of stuff this year, just personal stuff, and to overcome that and when today was (great).” Riley says. “Riley’s got me already and he’s only a freshman!” Justin says.

He also has three more years in high school, and one big goal in mind!

“The dream is Oklahoma State. I’m going to try my best to win all three!” Riley says.

With Harrisburg, Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.