Drama building in Pine to Palm round of 32 after exciting finishes
Only three top 10 qualifiers remain in the Pine to Palm championship field after a day of exciting matches late in the day and nerve-wracking extra holes to narrow the bracket to quarterfinalists Friday at Detroit Country Club
No. 6 Grady Meyer has been posting big birdie days and has advanced quickly through two matches taking out No. 27 Mason Fiddle 5&4.
“I’ve made a lot of birdies the last two days,” said Meyer. “I had six again today, which was really nice. Today was a little different. I played good early and not as good late, so it was kind of the opposite of yesterday. It was fun to get off to a hot start and get some birdies early.”
The putter has been Meyer’s big weapon and he’ll need it in an all-Golden Gopher matchup Saturday with Thomas Longbella.
“I’m putting really well and I’ve been relying on that trying to give myself as many chances as I can get,” Meyer said. “If you’re wedging and putting well, you can have success.”
No. 22 Longbella advanced defeating Jon Stecher 2&1.
No. 1 Nick Myhre Myhre is the only remaining medalist with Noah Lawson going down in defeat and has been playing sharp with the target on his back. At the moment, the tournament is in the top seed’s hands.
“I like that,” he said. “The thing is, out here, anyone can get hot at any time. On these shorter courses if your wedges are on and the putter is the main thing. If you’re putter gets hot, anybody can be scary out here.”
Myhre’s game has been smooth sailing but he noted a couple areas of improvement heading into crunch time this weekend.
“I’ve been hitting the ball a little better each day and hopefully, I’ll keep getting better,” said Myhre. “My driver has been struggling a little bit and it would be nice to see a couple longer putts go in like I did in qualifying.”
The par fives have proven a challenge for Myhre who hopes to improve off the tee on the three long holes, especially working on converting simple up-and-downs.
Myhre defeated No. 32 Ben Hauge 3&2 and will face No. 17 Matt Rachey in a Bison versus Gopher battle.
Rachey played in a back-and-forth match never straying past 1-up or 1-down that locked at even on the back half of the back nine before producing a 19th hole for the decider with No. 49 Pat Dietz.
Both golfers were right off the tee on No. 19 in the rough and trees. Rachey shot first going for a big bomb and had some nerves before Dietz also found trouble, as well.
“I was trying to put a little pressure but it didn’t go out like I wanted to, but in the end it all worked out,” Rachey said.
Like the extra hole, the duo had a battle on their hands that came down to the last putt.
“He’s been steady Eddie all day, got lucky this time,” said Rachey. “It was a good match all around.”
Rachey sank a birdie putt for the win.
“It’s just make it, aggressive and try to end it as quickly as possible,” Rachey said.
One guy who knows how to win at Pine to Palm is NDSU’s Connor Holland, the 35th seed and 2011 champion.
“It’s been a while,” he said.
Holland got off to a quick start winning the first three holes in taking out the No. 3 seed in Lucas Johnson, a fellow Bison.
“It wasn’t pretty after that; I just kept it in play and tried to take what the course gave me and not try to beat myself up,” said Holland.
The soft-spoken, big hitting lefty heads into championship weekend with a calm demeanor and strategy looking to notch his second title.
“You just can’t get ahead of yourself; take it one shot at a time and don’t get up too high, don’t get down too low,” he said.
Detroit Lakes’ Tanner Lane has had a knack for exciting wins the past two seasons to the pleasure of the family reunion that is his entourage in the gallery.
No. 26 Lane was up two early on No. 7 Bryant Buckellew, but Buckellew stormed back to take his own 2-up lead. The match was all square before both players flipped Nos. 15 and 16 and it was a tie leading up to dramatic birdie putts on 18.
The measuring string was needed to determine who was out as both players stuck their approaches. Buckellew was out by inches and had the easier of the two putts sinking his with little break to put the pressure on Lane looking at a tricky, downhill right to left roll.
Lane stuck the putt and knew it was going in before it hit the cup and took that momentum to extra holes winning with par.
“I have a little advantage playing here every week and weekend and growing up out here so I know the greens pretty well,” said Lane. “At the end of the day you just have to do it and trust it and luckily, the last few years have gone my way. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Brennan Hockman provided late excitement for the second straight day. The Bemidji State University product and lowest seed remaining at No. 60 needed three extra holes to get to Friday’s play and sank a big bender for birdie on 18 to end the tournament for No. 28 Jack Holmgren.
No. 12 Coy Papachek and No. 44 Cody Christensen spent the longest time on the course in the final pairing playing a near six-hour round to a 1-up decision for Papachek on 18 to end the day’s play.
Fergus Falls’ Chris Swenson, the No. 31 seed pulled off the upset of the day defeating No. 2 and co-medalist Noah Lawson 5&4. Swenson built a 4-up lead early and kept at it to exit the course early.
No. 24 Jon Miller continued to battery of top 10 golfers taking out No. 9 Benjamin Dirck 5&4. Miller ended Swenson’s tournament in 2016 and moves on to face No. 8 Erik Weiss.
Weiss defeated Bemidji State’s Cody Cook, No. 40, 3&2.
No. 10 Nate Varty also commanded his match winning 5&4 over No. 42 Robert Wagner of Detroit Lakes.
No. 14 Adam Gronaas built on his extra holes victory Thursday to advance 2&1 over No. 19 Jacob Dehne.
No. 29 Andrew Passanante ended the upset bid of No. 61 Alan Spriggs late on the back nine winning 3&2.
Quarterfinal matchups beginning Saturday at 7:18 a.m.
1 Myhre vs. 17 Rachey
8 Weiss vs. 24 Miller
29 Passanante vs. 13 Kuhn
60 Hockman vs. 12 Papachek
31 Swenson vs. 18 Olsgaard
26 Lane vs. 10 Varty
35 Holland vs. 14 Gronaas
6 Meyer vs. 22 Longbella