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Trasamar sweeps Pine to Palm honors

Pine to Palm finalists Robert Wagner and Jon Trasamar share a laugh during their title match in last year’s Pine to Palm Golf Tournament. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

It was a rare sweep for the University of Minnesota’s senior Jon Trasamar, as he joined some elite company after winning each the 81st Pine to Palm Golf Tournament’s medalist honors and the championship, something which was only done three times since 1985.

The Gopher golfer topped Detroit Lakes’ native Robert Wagner in the finals 2 and 1, to seal the deal Sunday on his Pine to Palm sweep.

The only other golfers to pull off the medalist-championship sweep, includes Andy Doeden (2001), Mike Podolak (1993) and Jim Sorenson (1985).

Trasamar put on one of the most consistent dominating performances in recent Pine to Palm history, by steamrolling over his match play competition after earning medalist laurels by shooting a nine-under par 133.

The Gopher senior captain felt a run like he put on this past week at the Detroit Country was coming on.

“My golf game has been getting better and better all year and instead of playing a bunch, I instead was focusing on being a smarter golfer and working on my course management,” Trasamar said. “It was trending to this tournament, and this past week, I was hitting the ball so well.”

Trasamar didn’t have many close matches, while downing two-time Pine to Palm champion Rick Kuhn 4 and 3 in the Sunday morning semifinal round.

But Trasamar’s toughest outing came in the finals, where he met Detroit Lakes’ 1998 graduate and St. Louis Park’s Wagner, who put on an exciting run through match play.

Wagner had a third-best qualifying score of seven-under par 135, while winning close matches all the way through and highlighted by his 5 and 4 win over one of the Pine to Palm’s most prolific golfer Greg Melhus, who was making his fifth appearance in the tournament’s final four.

“I’ve been playing my best golf of my life this week,” Wagner said. “I play a pretty hard course in the Cities (Minneapolis Golf Club) and never score under par. I was 26-under par total this week.”

Wagner made his statement early that he belonged in the Pine to Palm finals, after he chipped in a 45-foot eagle on the first green.

It was a hole Trasamar was accustomed to winning, since he made birdie every time he played it in his eight tries, but once.

“After I saw him sink his eagle, things changed and I knew birdie wasn’t good enough,” Trasamar said.

That didn’t occur, as Wagner had an early 1-up lead.

“I had about a 45-foot putt and there was a piece of dirt on my ball, which of course I couldn’t remove, so I just tried to put it next to the cup,” Wagner said. “I hit it perfectly and it rolled in. To hear the roar from the gallery was just sweet.”

After being out-driven off the second tee, Trasamar forced to half the hole, then made his own statement on the third green.

On his birdie putt, Trasamar sunk his 20-footer to bring the match back to even.

The duo also halved No. 5, a hole Trasamar birdied every time he played it.

Wagner went back 1-up by winning six with his own 18-20 foot putt before Trasamar nailed a 15-foot birdie on the Par 3 eighth hole.

That started a string of crucial wins by Trasamar, as both golfers threw darts on the ninth green, but Wagner two-putted and the Gopher made birdie for a 1-up advantage.

“I had a great wedge shot up to the green, probably one of the best I had all week,” Trasamar said of his approach shot. “That one was big for me.”

Another 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th green reinforced Trasamar’s momentum, as he went 2-up, a lead he would not relinquish the rest of the way through.

By hole 10, Trasamar had dropped seven birdies, but Wagner was still in the match down only two.

“I was concerned about giving too many holes on the front nine, because I usually don’t play well on those,” Wagner said. “But I was only down one entering the back nine and I felt pretty confident in that.”

With Trasamar’s long putts to build his 2-up advantage, he credited his green play on extra practice beforehand.

“I was putting well, because I had more time on the putting green,” Trasamar said. “I was focusing more on my up and down putting and my speed on my putting was also a concern.”

Wagner took hole 11 after Trasamar two-putted, but he regained the 2-up margin by winning 12 with another nice chip shot near the hole.

The DL native missed a big opportunity on 13, after nearly missing his birdie putt, but instead halved it, with holes running out.     

It was much of the same on holes 14 and 15, as both missed their birdie putts. The same went for 16, with Trasamar getting up and down on 17 after going into the right-side bunker on his tee from the par three tee box.

“I was in one or two bunkers all week, but on 17, I really like those downhill bunkers and I also had a lot of green to work with,” Trasamar said.

His sand shot was money, as he laid it within five feet, as Wagner missed his long birdie off the fringe, to give the 81st Pine to Palm championship to Trasamar.

“Playing eight rounds in six days is pretty exhausting, it’s the most I’ve played in that amount of time,” Trasamar said. “It’s nice to join some of my teammates and former Gophers up on the Pine to Palm board as medalist and now champion.”

Trasamar likely also played in his last Pine to Palm for quite some time. He is planning on going pro after the Gopher men’s golf season this spring, so he will not be back to defend his title.

“It’s something I’ve focused on for a long time and I will pursue it sometime next summer,” Trasamar included.

But for Wagner, he certainly will be back for his hometown tournament.

“It was great playing my best golf this week,” Wagner said.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.