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Brian Wierima, Published August 10 2012

Olson drops out, Cavanagh aces at Pine to Palm

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – One of the most talked about happenings coming out of the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament Friday wasn’t about the latest upset during the round of 32 or even about a match at all, but about a withdraw.

Driving Friday morning to Detroit Lakes to play in the round of 32 against his opponent Todd Hillier, North Dakota State sophomore golfer Trenton Olson received a call of a lifetime, when he was notified that he will be playing in the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 13-19, in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.

To top it all off, all this happened on his birthday.

“I was at the top of the list as a first alternate for the U.S. Amateur, so I thought I had a decent shot of making it,” Olson said. “But this is just great receiving that call.”

Olson shot an even par 72-72-144 during his U.S. Amateur qualifying rounds a couple of weeks ago and his score was good enough to add him to the top of alternate list.

“I will be joining my NDSU teammate Bill Carlson, so that will be fun,” Olson said. “I hate to withdraw from the Pine to Palm, but this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Hillier didn’t want to advance to the round of 16 by a withdrawal, but he obviously understood why and wished the NDSU sophomore the best of luck at the U.S. Amateur.

“I’m so happy and proud of Trenton and hopefully I can represent us well tomorrow in the next match,” Hillier said. “We wanted to play, but this is the ultimate for him. I’m so happy for him.”

The two did play their round casually nonetheless, if not just for practice for both.

“It is good practice for me for Saturday and for Trenton when he heads out to Colorado,” Hillier said.

With Olson’s berth into the U.S. Amateur being the biggest news Friday at the Pine to Palm, it was Taylor Cavanagh who would claim the biggest shot of the day.

Cavanagh drained the tournament’s second hole-in-one in his match against Detroit Lakes’ Kirk Eilertson, on the 174-yard, hole No. 8.

The first came by Kent Spriggs Tuesday during the Mid-Am qualifying rounds.

The ace put the Perham golfer 2-up and on his way to a 3 and 1 victory.

But even though the ace is a lifetime achievement – Cavanagh’s third – he wished it would have come at a different time.

“Obviously, it’s good because I won the hole, but it hurts you more than it helps in the long haul,” Cavanagh said of his ace. “I’ve seen people get so jacked up after making a hole-in-one, that they lose all focus and the rest of their match goes downhill.”

Cavanagh’s feat was witnessed by a larger-than-normal gallery, since the two golfers were local. Eilertson also caused a stir the night before by winning a six-hole playoff marathon.

“I had to grab a beer walking down the eighth fairway, just to calm down,” Cavanagh said. “Making a hole-in-one is great, but it’s not good during match play.”

Cavanagh’s words sprung true, as Eilertson chopped the 2-up lead in half by winning hole No. 9.

But Cavanagh was able to regain his composure and win hole No. 10 with a birdie.

He proceeded to win 12 with a close chip of the hole for birdie and took a 3-up advantage with par on 13. Cavanagh started to pull away with a birdie on 14 to finish “three or four under.”

Another birdie on 17 sealed the deal for Cavanagh, as he advanced to the round of 16 for the fourth time in his Pine to Palm career.

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