Pine to Palm: Amy Anderson to take on Tom Hoge Sunday in semifinal round
The two biggest stories of the 77th Pine to Palm Golf Tournament will collide Sunday morning in the semifinal round.
The week started with a one-day qualifying record set by Fargo's Tom Hoge, who shot a nine-under par 62 Tuesday.
That story quickly succumbed to another historical happening after Oxbow 17-year-old Amy Anderson became the first-ever female to qualify for Championship match play.
After a week of playing in the headlines, the two meet in the semifinals Sunday morning.
"It's incredible," Hoge said of Anderson's feat of winning four matches and playing to the semifinals. "I heard she is shooting four or five under par, so this should be fun -- a lot of fun."
Anderson knows of Hoge's accomplishments throughout his career -- including finishing third in the Division I men's golf National Tournament to earn All-American honors and taking the Minnesota State Amateur championship.
Anderson -- who also has a big win this summer in the form of the U.S. Junior Girls Amateur championship -- also knows the semi's is another entire mountain to scale from the one she conquered throughout Pine to Palm week.
"I will literally have to take it one shot at a time, playing nothing but fairways and greens and make all my putts," Anderson said of her impending semifinal showdown with Hoge. "I am not intimidated, but I do respect him. I've followed him as a player and this will be one of my biggest challenges yet.
"But I learned at the U.S. Amateur that anyone is beatable."
Anderson started creating a good buzz with her first two victories over Peter Krier and Wade Walters.
That buzz started picking up volume Saturday with a come-from-behind win over 53-year-old Scott Linnerooth 1-up, then topping Justin Jenkins in the afternoon 2 and 1.
Under downpour conditions, Anderson was able to tread out a 2-up lead after the first two holes on a pair of pars.
That was extended to 3-up after Jenkins hit into the trees on hole 12.
A birdie on 14 by Jenkins cut the deficit down to 2-up, but Anderson delivered the decisive blow by making par.
She finished it up with a solid shot using a hybrid club on 17 near the hole to close the match out.
As each hole went by, the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the final four was brightening for Anderson -- and she noticed it.
"I was really wanting to make the semifinals and I usually don't try and get ahead of myself, but I was thinking of it as the match was closing to an end," Anderson said.
Hoge has been as consistent as any golfer throughout match play by rarely trailing and winning convincingly with a pair of 3 and 2 wins in the first two rounds.
He had to grind out a hard-fought victory over Max Hoskings in the morning round Saturday, finally winning 1-up, then got back to his dominating ways with a 4 and 2 triumph over 1995 Pine to Palm champion Mike Halverson.
An eagle chip-in on six and a drive on seven which was pin high to left, erased a 1-down deficit, while a good wedge shot on nine put Hoge 1-up against Halverson in the quarterfinals.
After a very close start, Hoge was able to stay on track after that eagle on six and cruise for the win.
"It was close on the front nine and I knew I was going to have to play well to beat him," Hoge said. "We were just throwing birdies at each other."
But Hoge out-birdied Halverson by finishing with an eight-under par score by hole 16.
"If I can keep shooting eight-under, it'll be hard to beat me," Hoge added.
In the bottom bracket, a pair of University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will be pitted against each other.
Cameron White played through the monsoon with a 1-up win over New Mexico University's Jon Sauer and halted Frazee 16-year-old Beau Hanson's unprecedented journey through match play with a 7 and 6 win.
Gopher teammate Thomas Campbell -- a native of New Zealand -- completed the double U of M sweep Saturday with a 2 and 1 win over defending champion Ben Freeman and a 4 and 2 defeat of two-time Pine to Palm champion Rick Kuhn.
The duo were the only Gophers entered in the tournament and it didn't go unnoticed that the two could meet up in match play in the semifinals.
"Yeah, we talked about it earlier in the week," said White, who played to the semifinals two years ago after stroking a medalist record 12-under par 130. "It will be a friendly match. It's good that we didn't have to meet up earlier in the tournament, but it came in the semifinals.
"There will be one Gopher in the finals for sure."
White birdied the first hole on Hanson which led to a bogey on two -- the only time the Gopher shot over par on a hole in the round.
White was five-under par by the 12th hole as he built a 6-up lead.
"I played well and he did hit some wayward shots, which hurt him," White said. "I just played my game and controlled what I could control."
Campbell defeated two former Pine to Palm champions by not necessarily having his best putting game intact.
"I hit the ball well when I was putting, but nothing was dropping," Campbell said. "The weather was rough there for a bit in the quarterfinal match (against Kuhn) and I won the first couple of holes and got an edge on him.
"I didn't get into much trouble at all most of the day."
Campbell added both he and White know each other's weaknesses and strengths, but there will be one facet of his game that will be on.
"I know I will be putting better (Sunday)," Campbell said. "But it's going to be a fun match, something I will enjoy."
The upper bracket in semifinal play will tee off at 7:50 a.m. while the bottom bracket will follow at 8 a.m.
The championship match will follow, starting at 2:45 p.m.