MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — The boys high school golf state tournament starts Tuesday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids.

The U.S. Open starts Thursday. And one Minnetonka high schooler turned down the chance to play in one, for the other. Though it’s probably not the way you’d think.

Ben Sigel is the best high school golfer in Minnesota — the defending Class 3A state champion. And, as it turns out, one of the best golfers in the country.

“Right now, especially, I’m in a pretty good mental state with my golf game, which has helped a lot this season,” Sigel said.

Last month, the high school senior at Minnetonka shot a 68 at a local U.S. Open qualifier — making him one of only 525 people in the country to advance to a sectional — just one step away from the U.S. Open. A score of 7-under par over two rounds at the sectional would get him in.

“That’d be really good golf for me, but I could do it, I think,” Sigel said.

Which left him with a tough choice: The sectional was the same day last week as the high school sectional. So play in the high school sectional, give up the chance to play in the U.S. Open. Play in the U.S. Open sectional, give up his last high school state tournament. Sigel chose the high school event.

“So you chose the high school section over the Yeah. Yeah. Why in the world? A lot of people have been saying that. It just, I hopefully have another 30 years to qualify for the U.S. Open,” Sigel said. “And honestly, there’s not that great of a chance that I’m going to make it. And I only have one — this team that we have this year is as good as any team that has ever come through Minnetonka.”

If it was just about him, Sigel says, he would’ve done the U.S. Open sectional. But he wants his team to have its best chance possible of winning the state team title. He put his team first.

“I definitely cherish these last couple weeks of my high school career and I don’t want anything less than to win,” Sigel said.

After giving up a chance at the U.S. Open, they better.

David McCoy