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Trasamar helps Gophers to Big 10 title to cap collegiate career

Jon Trasamar turned pro this past summer and has already won a $15,000 purse on the Dakota Tour. He will not be back to defend his 2013 Pine to Palm championship. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

It was quite the golf year for University of Minnesota graduate Jon Trasamar, who started his senior Gopher season by dominating the 81st Pine to Palm Golf Tournament field and capping it with a Big 10 Conference championship.

Those two bookend accomplishments framed a senior season in which Trasamar couldn’t have asked to go any better.

It started last August when the Gopher became only the third Pine to Palm competitor since 1985 to claim both the medalist honors and championship, when he defeated Detroit Lakes native Robert Wagner 2 and 1 in the title match.

Then came the college fall and spring seasons, where eventually the Gophers claimed the Big 10 championship, something which the team was building for all year.

“Last year, we took second in the Big 10 tournament, so we knew we had to get it done this time around,” said Trasamar, who was the lone Gopher captain. “It was a good year and bookending that with a conference championship, that was the highlight of my career.”

Trasamar had a jumpstart to his college fall season by winning medalist and championship honors at the 81st Pine to Palm.

He shot a two-day low of 66-67 for a nine-under par 133.

He then proceeded to tear through match play and the eventual coveted Pine to Palm championship, joining only Andy Doeden (2001), Mike Podolak (1993) and Jim Sorenson (1985) to win both medalist and the title since 1985.

“I was just focused all week and I came out ready to go,” Trasamar said of his run in last year’s tournament. “I was focused on every round. Looking back, it really means a lot more to me winning the Pine to Palm, and it’s pretty cool to have my name up on the board.”

But for the second year in a row, the defending champion will not be returning for a repeat run.

Last year, 2012 champion Beau Hanson qualified for the U.S. Amateur Tournament, which landed on the same week as the Pine to Palm.

This time, Trasamar will not be back to defend his title after turning pro, as he is currently playing on the Dakota Tour.

It didn’t take long for Trasamar to make a name for himself on the Dakota Tour after he won the $15,000 purse in Sioux Falls, S.D., very early in the season.

Trasamar used the momentum he gained during the Gopher season, where he peaked at the end of the season to help his team to the conference championship.

“We didn’t expect Jon to make a wave like he did later in the season,” said U of M head coach John Carlson. “He served as the team’s leader, not only as the captain, but he led on and off the golf course and in the classroom.”

The Gophers started picking up momentum with a win in the Seton Hall tournament, which was followed up soon after with a victory at Long Beach State.

Another tournament victory was had in Penn State, which started a winning attitude on the team.

“We started learning how to win,” Trasamar said of the winning streak.

During the Big Ten Championships, which were held Dye Course at French Lick Resort, Trasamar sunk a dramatic 45-yard birdie on the 18th hole, which was dubbed as “…one of the finest moments of the year in Gopher Golf…” by Carlson.

U of M Jose Mendez was Big 10 co-medalist, while Carlson was eventually named the Conference Head Coach of the Year. Trasamar finished third overall in the Big 10 Tournament with a six-over par mark.

The Gophers won a total of four tournaments this past year, including their first conference title since 2007. They finished ninth in the NCAA Raleigh Regional with a 20-over par score.

Several of the Gophers off that Big 10 championship team also play in the Pine to Palm, including Alex Gaugert, Jon DuToit and Trasamar.

“That’s one thing I am going to miss the Pine to Palm, because it was a good week to hang out with the team,” Trasamar included.

The Gopher senior finished with the second-best stroke average with a 73.92 in 12 tournaments and recorded three top 10 and six top 20 finishes.

The transition from high school to playing college didn’t go as smoothly as his college to pro jump, but he learned from it nonetheless.

“I was a bit overwhelmed going from high school to college golf, because I felt the need to get better quickly,” Trasamar said. “Instead, I should have just been looking to improve a little each day. Going pro, I just continued to improve and I am looking over it in the long haul.”

By playing the pro circuit, Trasamar has no one but himself to help prepare for the grind of the Dakota Tour.

“You’re responsible for yourself when you’re on tour,” Trasamar said. “You’re on your own now.”

But Carlson believes Trasamar has garnered all the necessary tools to succeed as a pro, as his first win this early in his career proves.

“He is a very responsible and mature individual,” Carlson said. “There are not many 23-year-olds who are as mature as he is. I’ve always seen that leader in him and he is a very humble player, but confident, as well.”

Trasamar will also start Qualifying School for the PGA Tour in October in Nebraska as he keeps his progression on the pro ranks moving right along.

The Gophers will have another strong contingent in this year’s Pine to Palm again, with Fargo’s Riley Johnson and Grady Meyer, senior Tyler Lowenstein, Matt Rachey, Charlie Duensing and Daniel Luftspring all competing.

“I always encourage my players to play in the Pine to Palm, because it’s a great time for them to get to know each other and it allows the freshmen to spend time with the returning players,” Carlson said. “It’s a good time for them to relax, enjoy the week and work hard on their games before the fall season starts.”

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