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– Troy Merritt was born in Iowa and lives in Idaho, but his history connects him to Minnesota.

He attended Spring Lake Park High, and he spent two years at Winona State before transferring to Boise State to play Division I college golf.

Although he had no scholarship offers coming out of high school, he has become a PGA touring pro. He won the Quicken Loans National last August to earn a position in the Masters for the first time, and Thursday he shot a 74 in the first round.

His father, Mark, said the only letter Merritt received after high school was from Division III St. John’s, the Collegeville alma mater of Minnesota amateur Sammy Schmitz, who played in the group ahead of Merritt on Thursday.

“I’ll admit I almost teared up on the first tee when I got announced,” he said. “It was really tough. It was a tougher course than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be hard, but it was really hard. You have to be precise on every shot.

“There’s no faking it out here.”

JIM SOUHAN