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Down goes the champ: No. 64 Strauman eliminates Swenson in first round upset

Ben Strauman tees off on the first hole at the Pine to Palm as the No. 64 seed on the way to an upset of defending champion Chris Swenson Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Pine to Palm golf tournament in Detroit Lakes. Robert Williams / Forum News Service1 / 2
Pine to Palm veteran and 2005 champion Rick Kuhn advanced winning 1-up on the 18th hole over Detroit Lakes' Wyatt Blomseth. Robert Williams / Forum News Service2 / 2

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.”

Strauman was 2-up after five holes, but Swenson charged back to even the match at the turn. Strauman again got up two by the 14th hole and was dormie after sticking his approach close on the 15th and converting to go 3-up.

“It was kind of an ebb and flow; I got out early; he came back,” Strauman said.


Swenson had a few struggles on the back nine and Strauman took advantage, but the Fergus Falls native rallied with birdie on 16 and had a short putt to cut into the lead with a par three on the 17th. His putt slid by left giving Strauman the win 2&1.

“I just kept hitting greens and made a couple putts,” he said.

From outside the player’s perspective, Strauman appeared like he was playing for par and letting Swenson gamble, when necessary, but that was not the case

“It probably looked like that because I was leaving all my birdie putts about three inches short right in the middle of the hole,” Strauman said. “It wasn’t mentally happening but that is what it looked like.”

In fact, Strauman played far more carefree than Swenson dealing with the stress of having to live up to last year’s success. Plus, a bit of anonymity gave Strauman an excellent mode to play the dark horse on day one of match play and enjoy it.

“Nobody knows me up here,” Strauman said. “I’m from Minneapolis and I play a lot of tournaments and I got lucky to get the defending champion. I had no pressure, so I can just go out and play.”

Strauman has not played at Detroit Country Club since the mid ‘90s and also noted the senior status he holds in the championship division at 43 years of age.

“I’ve always liked this golf course and it’s been 20 years since I’ve been up here,” he said. “Everybody I’ve played with so far wasn’t born. I’m easily one of the older ones in the field of 64.”

While the victory is the biggest upset possible in tournament play at the Pine to Palm, winning came as no surprise to Strauman. In fact, when asked if he expected to show up and become the biggest story of match play Thursday...

“You kidding me; of course I did,” he said. “You play to win. I know I have the game to play with these kids.”

Strauman faces No. 33 Stefan Nelson in the next round.


One other top 10 seed was upset in No. 6 Greg Melhus who saw a 3-up lead midway through the front nine dwindle to 2-up at the turn, 1-up at hole 14 and conclude in a 1-up victory for No. 59 Logan Palmer.

The 12 through 16 seeds all fell. No. 53 Cade Montplaisir upended No. 12 Erik Weiss 2&1. No. 52 Tony Vincelli defeated No. 13 Dax Wallat 1-up. No. 51 Andrew Passanante, a semifinalist last year, beat No. 14 Cole Hanson 4&3. Detroit Lakes’ Ryan Paskey’s run ended early as the 15-seed falling to No. 50 Spencer Adam 3&2. No. 16 Gage Stromme was taken out by No. 49 Adam Gronaas on the first extra hole 1-up.

No. 2 Will Czeh, the qualifying record-breaker, advanced 3&1, as did No. 3 Andrew Israelson 3&2 over last year’s runner-up Jon Miller. No. 4 Andrew Proctor and No. 5 Thomas Longbella also moved on.

Friday’s round of 32 begins at 1:27 p.m. on hole No. 1 at Detroit Country Club with the new star of the tournament Strauman looking to continue his run as the 64-seed.

86th Pine to Palm round of 64 match finals

64 Ben Strauman (2&1) 1 Chris Swenson

2 Will Czeh (3&1) 63 Andrew MacFarlane

3 Andrew Israelson (3&2) 62 Jon Miller

4 Andrew Proctor (1-up) 61 Robert Wagner

5 Thomas Longbella (5&4) 60 Jared Lentz

59 Logan Palmer (1-up) 6 Greg Melhus

7 Nick Myhre (3&2) 58 Ryan Ames

8 Jackson Foth (2&1) 57 Jordan Smith

9 Pat Deitz (4&2) 56 Ben Unruh

10 Rick Kuhn (1-up) 55 Wyatt Blomseth

11 Bryant Buckellew (1-up) 54 Mitch Scrimgeour

53 Cade Montplaisir (2&1) 12 Erik Weiss

52 Tony Vincelli (1-up) 13 Dax Wallat

51 Andrew Passanante (4&3) 14 Cole Hanson

50 Spencer Adam (3&2) 15 Ryan Paskey

49 Adam Gronaas (1-up) 16 Gage Stromme

17 Mason Fiddle (2-up) 48 Max Savini

47 Nate Varty (3&2) 18 Jordie Siverson

46 John Fischer (1-up) 19 Colton Murphy

45 Lucas Johnson (3&1) 20 Patrick Traynor Johnson

21 Nathaniel Kahlbaugh (1-up) 44 Regan Steen

22 Brennan Hockman (1-up) 43 Dieter Zuehlke

23 Joe Christianson (5&4) 42 Daniel Sayler (42)

24 Tyler Nelson (4&2) 41 Ryan Steinert

40 Bill Carlson (5&4) 25 Lincoln Cizek

39 Ben Hauge (3&1) 26 Alex Schwab

38 Connor Holland (5&4) 27 Brock Ellingson

28 Michael Kosiek (1-up) 37 Terry Kragero

29 Kole Hallmark (1-up) 36 Matt Kulla

30 Connor Glynn (3&1) 35 Justin Redding

34 Austin Schultz (2&1) 31 Caleb Ketterling

33 Stefan Nelson (4&3 32 Dylan Naylor

Friday’s round of 32 matchups

Ben Strauman (64) vs. Stefan Nelson (33)

Adam Gronaas (49) vs. Mason Fiddle (17)

Jackson Foth (8) vs. Bill Carlson (40)

Pat Deitz (9) vs. Tyler Nelson (24)

Andrew Proctor (4) vs. Kole Hallmark (29)

Tony Vincelli (52) vs. Lucas Johnson (45)

Thomas Longbella (5) vs. Michael Kosiek (28)

Cade Montplaisir (53) vs. Nathaniel Kahlbaugh (21)

Spencer Adam (50) vs. Nate Varty (47)

Nick Myhre (7) vs. Ben Hauge (39)

Rick Kuhn (10) vs. Joe Christianson (23)

Andrew Israelson (3) vs. Connor Glynn (30)

Andrew Passanante (51) vs. John Fischer (46)

Logan Palmer (59) vs. Connor Holland (38)

Bryant Buckellew (11) vs. Brennan Hockman (22)

Will Czeh (2) vs. Austin Schultz (34)

Robert Williams

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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