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Brian Wierima / Forum Communications Co., Published August 15 2010

51-year-old Hillier lets clubs do talking at Pine to Palm

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – 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 worried about his next opponent in the Pine to Palm semifinals, which will be played this morning at 8 a.m.

“To me age is just a number, it doesn’t mean much,” Hillier said, after advancing with a 3 and 2 victory over tournament fan favorite and hometown golfer Tanner Lane. “The course is conducive to my game and I don’t get into the age thing.

“I’m just going into my match focusing on hitting the fairways and greens.”

In his quarterfinal match, Hillier had the 18-year-old Lane by 33 years in age, but it was his putter which made the difference.

Hillier had seven one-putt greens in his first seven holes, thus building a 5-up lead by the turn.

“I was putting extremely well,” Hillier said. “I was making all my 8- to 10-foot putts and didn’t have any trouble hitting my fairways.”

Hillier downed Logan Palmer 1-up in 20 holes, something which his next opponent is familiar with.

Co-medalist Wade Walters had to survive a 19-hole affair to advance to semifinal play by outlasting Kenny Rucker.

Walters made it to the quarterfinals with a 5 and 3 win over Sean Barrett earlier in the day.

Defending champion Tom Hoge once again finished earlier than most in his two matches Saturday, but he was pushed for the first time this week.

After a 4 and 2 win over Thomas Strandemo in the round of 16, Hoge fell behind in a match for the first time this week.

The 16-year-old from Moorhead, Ben Welle, won the first hole of the match to go 1-up.

The score stayed the same up to the fourth hole, where Hoge made birdie to even the match.

“I know I need to keep playing more great golf to win,” Hoge said.

His opponent, 22-year-old Travis Ross – who plays for the University of New Mexico – will be more than a challenge for Hoge.

Ross downed Caleb Ketterling 2 and 1 in the morning round and beat two-time Pine to Palm champion Rick Kuhn 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals.

“I definitely feel like I can beat him, I just going to keep doing what I am doing,” Ross said of his match against Hoge. “It really comes down to a matter of who’s playing better.”

The semifinal tee times for championship is at 8 a.m. and 8:10 a.m., while the championship match will start at 2:45 p.m.

Championship flight

Round of 16

Tom Hoge def. Thomas Strandemo 4 and 2

Ben Welle def. Adam McArthur 6 and 5

Travis Ross def. Caleb Ketterling 2 and 1

Rick Kuhn def. Spencer Hilde 3 and 2

Wade Walters def. Sean Barrett 5 and 3

Kenny Rucker Jr. def. Corey Blenkush 3 and 2

Tanner Lane def. Luke Davison 2 and 1

Todd Hillier def. Logan Palmer in 20 holes

Quarterfinals

Tom Hoge def. Ben Welle 5 and 3

Travis Ross def. Rick Kuhn 2 and 1

Wade Walters def. Kenny Rucker Jr. in 19 holes

Todd Hillier def. Tanner Lane 3 and 2

Mid-Am

Semifinals

Jay Olafson def. Wade King 4 and 3

Chad Niles def. Mike Seelye 4 and 3

Senior

Semifinals

Tim Rubis def. Larry Olin 1 up

Clint Nelson def. Conrad Lopes 3 and 2

Super Seniors

Semifinals

Chuck Renner def. Ted Hatlen 5 and 4

Paul Krueger def. Lank Larson 1 up


Wierima writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.