Pine to Palm: Schommer pays homage to late friend after winning second straight Senior Division title
When Bill Schommer received his Senior Division championship trophy, he thought of his late friend Pat Vincelli. From striving to "Make it on the board" to bringing home back-to-back titles, Schommer's Pine to Palm legacy wrote another chapter on Sunday.
DETROIT LAKES – Lakeville's Bill Schommer used to make the trip north for the Pine to Palm golf tournament to play with longtime friend Pat Vincelli.
A few years ago, Vincelli passed away. Since then, Schommer has won back-to-back Senior Division championships. The latest came on Sunday in a 1-up win over Bob Cavanagh.
"It means more than you'll ever know," Schommer said on winning back-to-back championships. "When I started coming up here, I just wanted to get my name on the board. That was it. We lost a guy who's been on the board a ton of times, Pat Vincelli, a couple of years ago. We played at the same golf course down in Lakeville. I've known Pat for a long time, and he's been kind of a mentor to me. Last year when I won, I was very emotional. Right now, I know he'd be very proud, and that means everything to me."
Schommer took a 2-up lead with an eagle on No. 1 and a par on No. 2. He took advantage of Cavanagh's bogey on No. 8 to go three up before giving the hole back with a bogey before the turn.
Cavanagh pulled within one with a birdie on No. 11 before Schommer rolled in a par putt on No. 13 to retake a two-hole advantage. With four holes to play, Cavanagh made a charge.
A par on No. 15 and a birdie on No. 16 squared the match heading to the 17th tee box. Schommer's par on No. 17 gave him a 1-up lead before securing the win with another par on the final hole.
Schommer won the Senior Division title in 2021. However, it was a more demanding task to repeat. Three of his four matches went the full 18 holes, with the other ending on No. 17.
"You see the same guys over and over, and it's awesome," Schommer said. "It's fun because we are all grinding away and are competitive, but we don't take it that seriously. There are a lot of hugs after, and people are very appreciative. The bottom line is it's really fun. Win or lose; I have a blast when I come out here. Coming up 17 (on Sunday), I just told myself that it doesn't matter what happens."
Schommer wasn't confident in his game despite coming in as the reigning champ.
"I've been coming up here for years, and you get to know these guys. It's like coming home. It's so special." Schommer said. "I've been playing my worst golf in 20 years until I came up here this week. It's like coming home. It's just so comfortable here."
"It's short and tight, which is good because I can't hit it very far," he added. "I kept surprising myself because when I needed to make a shot, I did. That hasn't always happened, you know what I mean? That was really fun."
Schommer has played in the Pine to Palm since the late 1990s. There has only been one repeat champion before this summer. Robert Wernick went back-to-back in 2000-01. Schommer looks to be the first to win three straight.
"It was probably '97 or '98," Schommer said of his first Pine to Palm. "I've missed a few over the years. But we had seven families come out, and we rented a resort during my first one. We all came up here and had so much fun, and that's how it started. I'll be back for sure. It's something I'm not going to miss."