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Golf: Schmitz has a big week on the links

Sam Schmitz was the last Farmington golfer to qualify for state two years in a row when he accomplished the feat as a senior in 1999.

The 10 years since have seen Schmitz continue to play the game he loves at a variety of levels. He played collegiately at St. John's for four years, played professionally for a year and has since spent his time dabbling on the amateur circuit, but it's been a while since he's found the success he did during a pair of big tournaments last week.

Schmitz, who now lives in south Minneapolis, played one-over par golf over the first three days of last week to finish in a four-way tie for fourth place out of 67 golfers at the 106th Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights.

He took Thursday off, then reported to the Minnesota State Open Championship in Hastings Friday where he went on to once again place fourth overall, this time out of a field of more than 150 golfers. His three-day score of one-under-par was second best among the amateur players in the field.

"This is the best I've ever placed in both tournaments," Schmitz said. "Last year, I don't even know what I placed. Somewhere between 25th and 50th, I think. It was a big week and I played well."

Schmitz credits a change in his mental approach with turning around his game this year.

"I've felt a lot more comfortable with my game this year, the most comfortable since I got my amateur status back (four years ago)," he said. "I don't know what the reason is. I've just been playing a lot more consistent and having a lot more fun with the game, trying not to take it so serious anymore. I've just been having fun and it's led to a lot better results."

Schmitz is hoping his new approach will help him qualify for a couple of big tournaments coming up later this year -- the U.S. Amateur Championship in Tulsa, Okla., and the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Kiawah Island, S.C. Already on his schedule are a Stillwater tournament in September and a Northfield tournament in October.