Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14.
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Last year’s finalist Michael Melhus, the 13th seed, is the lone golfer from the bottom half of qualifying to remain in contention against the top three seeds in the Pine to Palm Mid-Am division semifinals. Melhus defeated Detroit Lakes’ Jason Justesen 6&4 to advance and set up a rematch of last year’s championship with the current title holder Perry Piatz in Saturday’s semifinals.
All four semifinalists have championship match experience as the top four seeds advanced Friday, Aug. 10 in the 86th Pine to Palm Seniors division. Only one of the four quarterfinals was tightly contested as No. 10 Jim Strandemo, a three-time Pine to Palm champion in the 80’s, gave 2016 Seniors champion and last year’s runner-up AJ Greff all he could handle. The duo battled to extra holes with Greff coming out victorious to force a rematch of the 2012 Mid-Am championship with Kent Spriggs.
The Pine to Palm Super Seniors quarterfinals were a lesson in the difference between stroke and match play as both co-medalists Don Bradford and Doug Taylor, along with defending champion Doug Gillam, were all eliminated from championship play Friday, Aug. 10 at Detroit Country Club. The semifinals consist of players seeded fifth through eighth as the top three seeds all went down.
No. 64 seed Ben Strauman storms back to advance
The three career winners of the Pine to Palm Super Seniors division lead the quarterfinals field into Friday’s morning’s duels. Last year’s champion Doug Gillam and the first Supers’ champion Paul Krueger will square off in the opening match at 8:44 a.m., Friday, Aug. 10.
Seven of the top eight seeds advanced to the Pine to Palm Seniors division quarterfinals with five of those matches ending early on the back nine. Defending champion Dan Ystebo was tested in a 1-up victory over No. 16 Rick Johnson. Ystebo’s second round opponent, No. 8 Scott Linnerooth, won by the same score over No. 9 Chuck Wiger. No. 4 Craig Stein went the distance with No. 13 Mark Norman winning 1-up also.
Both Pine to Palm Mid-Am finalists from last year advanced to the quarterfinals in a field that had only one upset in eight matches. The 2017 runner-up Michael Melhus pulled off the one victory from the lower eight qualifiers as the No. 13 seed defeated No. 4 Ben Jurgens 1-up. Defending champion Perry Piatz was off the course early after an 8&7 victory over No. 16 Frank Campbell.
Taking down defending champion Chris Swenson in the first round of Pine to Palm match play as the No. 64 seed was no surprise to Ben Strauman. He came to the Detroit Country Club for the first time in two decades prepared to win. “It was super fun,” Strauman said. “Chris is a great player; he’s got an unbelievable game and I can see why he won it last year. He rolls the ball well and hits it a mile.”
The top spot in Pine to Palm Seniors qualifying was up for grabs, but 2016 champion and last year’s runner-up AJ Greff posted a two-under par 69 to defeat three golfers by one stroke after the completion of all rounds Wednesday, Aug. 9. Greff grabbed the No. 2 position in match play behind defending champion Dan Ystebo of Fargo. In 2016, Greff completed the sweep as medalist in his championship year and looks to repeat that effort again.
Doug Taylor of Williston and Don Bradford of Venice, Florida tied atop Super Seniors qualifying with matching rounds of two-over 73 to share co-medalist honors after play on Monday, Aug. 6 at the Pine to Palm tournament. Bradford became a two-time medalist. His first was in 2015. Chuck Renner holds the record of three. The win was a first for Taylor.