Pine to Palm: Sweet 16 field set for Championship
There hasn't been any rookie jitters from 16-year-old Beau Hanson in his first venture in the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament.
Hanson didn't waste anytime introducing himself to the field of the 77th Pine to Palm Tournament after qualifying for the Sweet 16 in his first year of eligibility to play.
The Frazee golfer had to give away his first free entry into the Pine to Palm last year to his father after winning the Detroit Country Club men's league championship, since he didn't meet the age requirement of 16.
But after winning his second DCC men's league championship last month, Hanson was primed to make his mark in his home golf course's prestigious tournament.
"I expected to make match play and I knew I could make it this far," the soft-spoken Hanson said. "I was confident I could do well."
Hanson also knows how to play in high-pressure golf, after finishing fourth as a freshman in the Minnesota Class 1A state boys' golf tournament in June.
Most sophomores in high school would shy away from taking on college-aged golfers, but Hanson hasn't been affected by that intimidation factor this week and enters as the youngest qualifier in the Sweet 16.
He earned his berth for match play with a qualifying rounds of 72-76 for a six-over par 148.
Although match play was pretty new to Hanson, he has built insurmountable leads in the first two rounds, topping Moorhead's Nick Olsgaard 5 and 4 Thursday in the opening round.
Hanson proceeded to start quick again Friday in round two, building a 5-up lead after six holes on Brian O'Connell.
His mistake-free golf helped him gain the big edge after taking birdie on one and winning by par on holes two, five and six.
Hanson needed that 5-up cushion, as O'Connell trimmed the deficit down to two holes and didn't allow the Frazee golfer to win a hole until 15.
But Hanson captured 15 with par to punch his ticket to the final round of 16.
Hanson has been a quick learner in match play as he duels against his elder counterparts.
"I've just learned how to cope with the pressure and how to keep it going after you have built a lead," Hanson said. "I just go out there and play my game and not worry about my opponent's game."
Hanson had only one three-putt against O'Connell and was able to get up and down effectively consistently.
That, along with playing fairway golf with a straight drive, has made his young age a non-factor thus far in the tournament.
Hanson will be tested by another veteran of the Pine to Palm in Ryan Vincelli, who survived an extra-hole playoff with Anthony Cordes.
Another young and first-time Pine to Palm qualifier kept making her assault alive and well as she kept moving along in match play.
Oxbow's 17-year-old Amy Anderson shot 5-under par during her match against Wade Walters to advance to the third round with a 3 and 1.
Anderson made birdie on 16 to cap her match, after once again playing her usual consistent fairway-to-green golf.
"She doesn't miss the center of the fairway," Walter said. "I knew after shooting a 69-69 in qualifying, I had to shoot better than that to beat her. She is so steady out there."
Anderson -- the first female to qualify for Pine to Palm Championship match play -- will try to keep her historical pace going Saturday where she will face the oldest competitor remaining in 53-year-old Scott Linnerooth, who won 2 and 1 over 2006 runner-up Jason Rudquist.
It was business as usual for the top three seeds, as defending champion Ben Freeman downed veteran Todd Hillier of Hoople, N.D. 5 and 4, while the co-medalists of Tom Hoge and Clinton Boutelle won going away, as well.
He built a 2-up lead after making birdie on the first two holes, then repeated his birdie putts on five and seven, along with a par on eight for a commanding 4-up advantage.
Freeman ignited his round with a solid sand shot out of a hole-six bunker to save birdie and halve the hole.
He capped his match by draining birdies on 10, 11 and 13.
"I just kept playing hard despite the (4-up) lead, you learn never to stop no matter how far you are up," Freeman said. "I'm playing well and putting better."
Hoge had a bit of a closer match Friday, but still won 3 and 2 over A.J. Olson, while Boutelle disposed of Pat Deitz 4 and 3.
Two defending champions also advanced, as 1991 and 2003 champ Rick Kuhn won handily 5 and 3 over Geoff Pirkl.
The 1995 champion Mike Halverson advanced over Detroit Lakes' Ben Bergquist 3 and 2.
""I played solid and had only one bogey in the round," Kuhn said. "It was fairways and greens for the most part the last three days."
Kuhn finished with six birdies to keep the pressure on Pirkl.
Halverson won each of 15 and 16 on pars to pull out the win over Bergquist after a close match throughout.
Cameron White sunk a 14-foot uphill putt on 18 to spoil Detroit Lakes' and 2004 Pine to Palm champion Chris Braaten's quest into match play, ending it with a 1-up win.
Braaten's 12-foot putt to force a playoff, drifted just right of the hole, to cap a close match.
White said the turning point in the match came on a 30-foot birdie putt on 16, even though Braaten dropped his birdie on it to halve the hole.
"That was just a confidence builder for me, since I wasn't making my putts all day," said White, who is the tournament's co-medalist record holder with a 12-under par 130, along with Jeff Lamp. "I really just wanted to keep it to my three-shot routine and not get caught up playing on what my opponent did."
Other victors who will play in the Sweet 16, include Thomas Campbell, Lamp, Jon Sauer, Justin Jenkins, Max Hosking and Mike Balzer.
The final 16 will be trimmed to the Final Four Saturday, with two rounds being played at the DCC, with the first group starting at 7:31 a.m.