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Thielen Drives Green; Andrews' Team Wins Vikings Foundation Golf Tourney

The Vikings held their annual golf tournament at Mystic Lake with dozens of players and coaches in attendance during Wednesday’s festivities to benefit the newly branded Minnesota Vikings Foundation.

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. — There were swings, smiles and sand saves Wednesday afternoon at The Meadows at Mystic Lake golf course. 

And while the Vikings held their annual golf tournament at the course with dozens of players and coaches in attendance, Wednesday's festivities were the first under the newly branded Minnesota Vikings Foundation.

Brett Taber, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation, said one of the most enjoyable days of the year features people hitting the links for a good cause.

"This is one of our biggest fundraisers that we do every single year, and it's a great opportunity to engage the entire team in an event that raises money for the Minnesota Vikings Foundation," Taber said. "This helps us do our philanthropic events throughout the community, so without the efforts of today's event and these guys on the course and our great partners, we wouldn't be able to support the programming that we do to reach the youth in our community."

Taber said the golf event raised more than $100,000 for the foundation, which will then be used to make an impact for youth, health and education initiatives in various Minnesota communities.

Plenty of Vikings players showed up to support the cause, including notable names such as quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Adam Thielen, tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Latavius Murray, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith.

"It's always interesting to out on the golf course," Smith said. "For as athletic as we are, as a group we don't have the best golf swings. There's a few [solid] guys out here, but for the most part we're pretty subpar."

Thielen and Cousins would fall into the category of capable golfers, although the Vikings franchise quarterback deferred to his All-Pro wide receiver on who was the better player. 

"Adam Thielen is the guy … I've played with him, and I think his handicap right now is a 0.6," Cousins said with a smile. "I'm about a 12 (handicap), so I've got a ways to go. But I'm working on it and having fun and getting out with some teammates to play, which is a good time."

True to form, Thielen showed off his skills by driving the green on the fourth hole, a 284-yard, par 4. Thielen's group promptly carded an eagle by making the putt.

"I played well, but my teammates made some big putts," Thielen said.

Bragging rights aside, both Cousins and Thielen said the objective of Wednesday's outing was to mingle with sponsors, partners and fans while supporting the foundation.

"That's the most important thing. The Vikings do such a great job giving back to the community, so it's great coming out here to help support the cause," Thielen said. "It's also great just to be around some of the fans and people that support us. We have fun and relax a little bit and try to get the mind away from football."

Added Cousins: "It's fun to interact with everybody. You get to hear these people's stories and how much this team and organization means to them and to their families, it's all the more reason to work hard, be ready to go and really be a professional this fall. But it's fun to get out here and interact with each other with a change of scenery."

Cousins' playing group consisted of Vikings fans who are suite holders at U.S. Bank Stadium for home games. 

"He's been a great guy, really humble and super nice," Brian Manatt said of playing with Cousins. "It's a really cool experience, and it's neat to get to meet [players] and realize they are just real, normal people.

"They've all been really approachable," Manatt said.

Vikings offensive lineman Josh Andrews was part of the winning group along with Mike Crooks, John Elsky, AJ Michaelson and Charlie Branif.

The event was sponsored by MillerCoors along with Caribou Coffee, Unilever, Pepsi, Mystic Lake and KFAN 100.3-FM.

"We try to excel on the field, but we also try to excel off the field," Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman told the golfers. "By you supporting this foundation, it gives us the opportunity to make a difference in the community."

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