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Brian Wierima / Forum Communications Co., Published August 08 2012

Jeans captures medalist honors at Pine to Palm

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Doug Jeans Jr. didn’t need a come-from-behind round to earn the 2012 Pine to Palm medalist honors Wednesday, but the victory still is a comeback of sorts for the Forest Lake, Minn., golfer.

Jeans’ six-under par 65 in the first round Tuesday tied him for low man, while he followed up with a four-under 67 Wednesday to finish his qualifying 10-under 132 to capture the 80th Pine to Palm medalist laurels.

The University of Minnesota’s Jon DuToit and Erik Van Rooyen, along with Moorhead’s Pat Deitz, finished tied for second with a total two-day six-under 136.

Jeans’ journey to Pine to Palm silver was a long and arduous one, though.

“At the age of 14, Doug was winning all sorts of tournaments,” said Jeans’ father Doug Sr.

“But then things changed for him and he wasn’t able to play as well as he grew older,” said Jeans’ father, Doug Sr. “He took a year off from golf after his senior year at Forest Lake and almost quit the game altogether.”

Jeans enrolled at Madison Technical College, Wis., where he joined the men’s golf team. He also gained some valuable lessons from John Means and his game started to come around once again.

“Learning from John was a very big influence for me,” Jeans Jr. said. “That was big for me.”

Jeans was familiar with the Detroit Country Club course, since Forest Lake played in Detroit Lakes Northwest Classic during the spring high school season and he also has played in the Pine to Palm the last couple of years.

But none of his Pine to Palm rounds really produced spectacular results and he missed the cut for match play both times.

“I had absolutely no expectations coming into the tournament this year,” Jeans said.

That was before his six-under par 65, where he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to finish his first round of qualifying and record his lowest round ever.

Deitz also carded a 65, as the duo was paired with defending champion Connor Holland, who was playing his practice round, since he was exempt from qualifying.

The front nine ended up being the decisive factor for Jeans, after he shot a 32 by the turn, compared to Deitz’ 37.

“I just came out hot and I even missed two tap-ins, so my score could have been lower,” Jeans said. “I was bogey-free in my two qualifying rounds, up to my 29th hole.”

Jeans stayed in the fairway and excelled with his irons, thus placing himself in favorable putting situations.

“I didn’t really even putt very well, but my iron play was the best ever,” Jeans said. “But this just feels great, now I’ll be up on the medalist board for life.”

Holland used his practice round as a precursor to his match play and stay focused on his game.

“I was just relaxed today and not grinding anything,” Holland said. “I know what it takes now to win it.”

The only difference this year is the field is much more competitive than it has been in many years.

The final cut ended up being 147, compared to 151 last year, with a playoff of 11 players for the final five spots to cap Wednesday evening. It took six holes to determine those final five spots.

“This is definitely not going to be easy,” Holland added. “My first match is going to be tough and against someone who shot a 147.”

Brian Wierima is the sports editor of the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune