Meyer wins battle for championship medalist
For much of this past summer, Fargo natives Greg Melhus and Grady Meyer played more than a few rounds of golf in the area, much of it for fun.
But there was much more riding on the duo’s round Wednesday at the Detroit Country Club, with the 82nd Pine to Palm medalist honors on the line.
On this day, though, the final battle was won by Meyer, who kept the Pine to Palm’s medalist laurels in the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher family with his eight-under par two-round score of 134.
Melhus and Moorhead native Ben Welle shared runner-up honors with six-under 136 scores, during the two-day qualifying rounds played under almost perfect sunny and warm conditions.
But for the second year in a row, a Gopher will have won the medalist honors, after now graduated U of M golfer Jon Trasamar took each the medalist and eventual championship in 2013.
Trasamar has since turned pro and is playing on the Dakota Tour.
“It was just like playing in Fargo with Greg (Melhus) and there wasn’t much pressure or anything, it was just a relaxed round of golf,” Meyer said. “We lost a few U of M guys playing the tournament this year, so the ones here had to step it up.
“Now, I’m just looking to take it match by match.”
Meyer led by a stroke over Melhus after Tuesday’s first day of qualifying with a seven-under par 64, thus matching the two together in the same group.
Melhus, who was the 2003 Pine to Palm champion and earned spots in a bevy of semifinal matches, was eyeing that medalist honor simply for one reason.
“It’s the only piece of silver I haven’t won out here, so it’s somewhat of a bummer I didn’t get it this year,” said Melhus, who is playing in his 20th Pine to Palm.
“I was keeping track of it all day. I have played a lot of golf with Grady this summer, so I was trying to track him down.
“Going into 17, I had a bad swing and it cost me. That’s the way it goes.”
With Trasamar not back defending his title, Meyer took the top seed, while Welle (who is a sophomore on the University of Kansas men’s golf team) and Melhus were the second and third seeds.
Will Holmgren of Corcoran had a big boost to his score on the eighth hole Wednesday, after draining a hole in one to key his two-under par 69, which followed a 72 Tuesday for a final 141.
The par three, 174-yard shot landed just left of the pin, but from Holmgren’s view, the ball looked as if it rolled off the green.
“It landed just left of pin and I thought it went over the green and I didn’t react to it,” Holmgren said.
“But there were some people up on the green who started cheering.”
Holmgren didn’t let the excitement of a hole in one affect his game by shooting his next shot down the middle of the ninth fairway and eventually putted for par.
He will be entering match play after tying for 12th, but with just a little bit more momentum than normal.
“I ended qualifying on a good note and have some good mojo going,” Holmgren said.
“Now I need to have some putts start dropping.”
The final cut was 148, with 15 players in a playoff for the final four slots in the 64-man match play bracket, which starts Thursday.
Some familiar tournament names who qualified include 1991 and 2005 Pine to Palm champion Rick Kuhn (142), Perham’s Taylor Cavanagh (144), 2010 champion Todd Hillier (144), 2011 champion Connor Holland (145), and Detroit Lakes’ native and University of Nebraska-Omaha hockey player Tanner Lane (146).
DL 2014 graduate and three-time girls’ state champion, including one individual state title, Natalie Roth finished with a 150, missing the cut, but not on learning more about the game of golf.
“I loved every shot I hit, but I just went into it as another tournament and taking it as a good experience,” Roth said.
“I was playing against some big hitters, but I figured just to keep the ball in the fairway and get up to the green in regulation.”
Roth did exactly that throughout the two rounds and the experience was invaluable for her next step, which is Division I women’s golf on the NDSU team.
“I was happy to make it through the first cut, but I wish a few more of my putts would have dropped,” Roth said.
“It was a completely new experience and I wanted to know how I compared playing on the back tees. It was a great test and it was awesome pushing myself like that.”