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A Kretchman comeback: Fargo Davies’ golfer stuns 2014 medalist in 1st round

Fargo’s Tanner Kretchman watches his drive on the par four 10th hole at the Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes, during his Thursday Pine to Palm championship match against medalist Grady Meyer. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Odds were against Fargo Davies’ graduate Tanner Kretchman, who found himself down three holes with four remaining in the first round of the 82nd Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club Thursday.

Add to the fact he was down to the recent medalist winner and Fargo native Grady Meyer, who also is a sophomore on the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s golf team, and was playing as well as any golfer in the tournament.

But Kretchman didn’t worry about the odds, instead he decided to beat them – and Meyer – in a shocking comeback and advance to the second round with a 1-up victory.

Kretchman scored birdie on his final five holes to secure the win, after he trailed the Gopher for the entire match, which started being down three through five holes.

“Grady got on top early and I knew I had to make something happen soon or I would be out of it,” Kretchman said.

The swoon in the tide happened on hole 14, when Kretchman was able to stick an approach shot within a few feet of the cup for birdie.

From there, he would sink four more birdies and steal all momentum away from Meyer.

“I stuck that one close on 14 and that got my confidence going,” Kretchman said. “From there, I could start playing more aggressive.”

With Meyer’s lead growing so quick out of the gates, Kretchman’s game plan became that much more simple.

“I was able to get more aggressive with my shots and step up to the ball and just go for it,” the Fargo Davies’ graduate said. “That’s how I played my last six holes.”

Kretchman’s senior year at Fargo Davies was quite eventful, after he helped his team to a state runner-up finish, as well as an individual second-place spot, behind Riley Johnson, who also won 3 and 2 at the Pine to Palm Thursday over Michael Greenberg.

He will be playing for the Minnesota State University Moorhead men’s basketball team this coming year.

Kretchman’s upset of the top seed sets him up to play Pine to Palm veteran Taylor Cavanagh of Perham, who downed former champion Todd Hillier 5 and 4.

No. 2 seed Ben Welle of Moorhead, who is a sophomore on the University of Kansas men’s golf team, handled Drew Massey 4 and 3 to advance.

Welle and Fargo’s Greg Melhus tied for the medalist runner-up position, so the former Spud was certainly already playing well heading into match play.

“On the first fairway, I drove it exactly where I hit it in qualifying and that was right down the middle,” Welle said. “I made a two-putt birdie and that really got my round going well.”

It continued into the par-five fifth hole, where he was able to lay an iron shot out of the rough on the green and an eventual eagle putt. By the turn, Welle led Massey 2-up.

“On the back nine, I just wanted to keep my drives straight and force him to make the putts,” Welle said. “My driver has been working well all week. I’ve been playing solid thus far.”

Welle knows success in the Pine to Palm after playing to the round of 16 two years ago.

“Really, I just want to take it hole by hole, because there is a lot of golf to be played this week if you are to go far,” Welle added. “The player with the least amount of mistakes will win.”

Welle’s opponent Friday will be John Sund, who had an easy day Thursday after his counterpart, Peter Jones, had to withdraw due to illness.

Another Fargo golfer, Thomas Strandemo, also had a comeback to beat Cade Montplaisir 1-up, after he trailed late in the match.

Another hole in one was sunk Thursday, which incidentally happened on the same hole Wednesday.

Staples’ native Zach Israelson drained his ace on the eighth hole, a 174-yard shot. He went on to win 3 and 2 over Robert Reuter.

Ironically, Will Holmgren was in Israelson’s group when the feat occurred. Holmgren was the player who made the hole in one Wednesday on the same hole. 

The 2011 Pine to Palm champion Connor Holland also survived, winning 2-up over Andrew Passanante.

Detroit Lakes’ Ben Mallow also came out victorious 2 and 1 over Jack Elliott, while Melhus was also a victor from his No. 3 seed slot with a 5 and 4 win over Mitch Scrimgeour.

The Championship second round will start at 1:28 p.m. and run through 2:31 p.m. on the first tee.

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