Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.
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The Pine to Palm Golf Tournament has been a very fortunate week for Todd Hillier. Eight years ago, the 51-year-old Hillier, who is a potato farmer from Hoople, N.D., met his eventual wife Jeannie at the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament. Sunday, Hillier added another memorable moment during his Pine to Palm experience, by becoming the oldest player to ever win the 78-year-old tournament after posting the upset over defending champion Tom Hoge. George Lee was previously the oldest golfer to win the tournament, at the age of 48 in 1968.
Fargo's Tim Rubis lived every golfers' dream Saturday during his Pine to Palm Senior's semifinal match at the Detroit Country Club. The dream came in the form of a 20-foot putt on the 18th green to win his match and the right to move onto the Senior's championship. The reality hit when the ball rattled the bottom of the cup, thus sending Rubis into the finals against Fargo's Clint Nelson. The long birdie putt eliminated Florida's Larry Olin, whose 30-foot birdie putt came up just short.
Chuck Renner's luggage might be a bit heavier when he heads back to Phoenix, Ariz., after his week playing in the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament. Playing in the newly-created Super Seniors division, Renner has the potential to win both big awards with one more win in the championship match Sunday, starting at 11:20 a.m. at the Detroit Country Club. Already toting the medalist laurels with his two-over par 73, Renner won his semifinal match 5 and 4 over Detroit Lakes' Ted Hatlen to ensure an opportunity for the Super Senior sweep.
Don't worry, Todd Hillier already knows about his age. The Hoople, N.D., farmer knows he is the only golfer over the age of 30 left standing in the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes. He also knows he can become the oldest Pine to Palm champion at 51-years of age, eclipsing George Lee, who won it in 1968 at 48. But, the fact is, Hillier doesn't care about his age, he's just is worried about his next opponent in the Pine to Palm semifinals, which will be played Sunday morning at 8 a.m.
One of the strengths of the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament is the tradition it holds, allowing its patrons through its 78 years to know what to expect. But to keep that tradition strong and keeping the tournament a destination for golf families, changing with the times is also a necessity. Tradition is still a very important virtue to the Pine to Palm Tournament Committee, but change has also been a valuable tool in making the golfing experience through the week strong. One improvement is a definite notice, while the second will not be seen until Sunday afternoon.
Detroit Lakes' Mike Seelye did his best impression of a bulldog Friday during his Pine to Palm Mid-Am quarterfinal match against Perry Piatz. The start of the match saw Piatz sink four birdies in the first five holes, which would have normally built up a nice comfortable lead in most matches. But not Friday and not against Seelye, who has been playing a hot game of golf this week. Instead of separating from Seelye, Piatz only had a 1-up advantage, which came on a chip-in birdie on hole four. "I saw him making all those birdies, but I never gave up," Seelye said.
There was bit more than just a Pine to Palm Senior quarterfinal match on the line when Clint Nelson faced Rob Harris Friday at the Detroit Country Club. There was some college pride on the line. Nelson is a University of North Dakota alumni, while Harris totes the Maroon-and-Gold as a University of Minnesota alum, in which, are obvious big rivals in the world of college hockey. "Rob came up to me and said I knew you were playing here because all of these UND tees were lying around," Nelson said with a laugh.
It's been quite the ride this summer for Detroit Lakes senior Tanner Lane. First, his hockey career literally blasts off after being drafted by the USHL's Fargo Force, committing to play with the WCHA's University of Nebraska-Omaha men's hockey team and being selected by the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. Friday -- which incidentally was his 18th birthday -- was another notch in a wild summer for Lane, but it didn't come on the ice. Lane posted the first upset of the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament, after toppling co-medalist and former tourney champion Ben Freeman 1-up.
There was a big carrot at the end of a stick for the Pine to Palm match play Championship qualifiers to beat their opponents Thursday, besides the obvious reward of advancing in the bracket. It was a chance to sleep in, while the others had to toil in the early-morning hours to finish off their matches. After a bevy of storm delays throughout the first day of bracket play at the Detroit Country Club, the Championship field wasn't able to start until around 4:30 p.m. The golfers had to use a shotgun start, with groups of four starting on every hole and all starting at once.
As it turns out, golf isn't meant to be played in the water. The all-day rain at the Detroit Country Club cut short the majority of Pine to Palm Mid-Am championship match play Thursday, with some matches already out of hand and others very close. The top two seeds survived as defending champion Jay Olafson downed No. 16 seed Brad Solheim 6 and 5, while medalist and Concordia College head men and women's golf coach Duane Siverson outlasted Miles Schacher 2-up with three holes to go.