Brian Wierima / Forum Communications Co., Published August 12 2012
Frazee's Hanson prevails for Pine to Palm title
But on Sunday, Hanson made a memory that trumps them all.
A 30-foot birdie putt on hole No. 11 keyed a 4 and 3 victory for Hanson over University of Minnesota senior and Hilliard, Ohio, native David Haley Jr. in the 80th Pine to Palm championship match.
“It feels great to win it,” Hanson said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid. The Pine to Palm has been my favorite tournament, and it’s great to win it.”
It all came together for Hanson against Haley, who also was playing consistent golf.
A quick start in the form of two wins on the first two holes set the tone, as Hanson found shots to get out of trouble the entire match.
Haley found trouble early, after he hit the right bunker on the first hole, while Hanson made birdie.
The Frazee golfer made par on the second to go 2-up, after Haley left his shot out of the rough on the deep end of the green.
“I was down before to some good golfers through the week, so I knew I was still capable of coming back,” Haley said.
The Gophers golfer cut the deficit in half with a par on four, after Hanson three-putted for bogey.
But hole No. five typified Hanson’s game throughout the match after he found the right-side bunker, while Haley was in the left rough, shy of the green.
Hanson made a beautiful recovery out of the sand, landing his ball within 10 feet of the hole, while Haley left his birdie putt short to put the score back to 2-up.
“I’ve been working a lot around the green and in the bunkers, so it worked out well this time,” Hanson said.
A hiccup on the sixth hole by Hanson on a missed five-foot putt halved the hole, as Haley won seven and eight with a birdie/par to even the match.
But the next three holes were the deciding factor in the match, as Hanson’s irons and putter put some separation between himself and Haley.
Hanson almost drained a long eagle putt, as Haley pushed his past the hole and finished with par.
A chip within three feet of the cup on 10 by Hanson put him 2-up, which led into the key 11th hole.
Eyeing down an uphill 30-foot putt for birdie, Hanson was money, as Haley’s 10-foot attempt was once again short.
“That putt was big,” Hanson said. “I knew I had to make it and I put a good stroke on it, along with a good line and it went in.”
If a clutch birdie putt like that wasn’t enough, Hanson verified he was fighting hard for the championship, after making a fabulous chip out of the rough pin high and landing it about two feet from his target.
Haley made a nice attempt out of the trees, but he ended up three-putting to give Hanson a 4-up advantage.
“He played well today and I didn’t play as well as I should have,” Haley said. “I wasn’t driving well and I missed some putts I normally make.”
Haley did show off his woods by almost driving hole 13 for the eventual win, but it was too little too late, as they halved the par 3 14 and Hanson winning the 15 after the senior Gopher hit a tree, thus losing a stroke.
The match ended 4 and 3.
With the DCC course being Hanson’s home turf and the Pine to Palm being his favorite tournament, his approach to the championship match was much like any other he played in.
“I was pretty casual and I approached it like any other tournament,” Hanson said. “I was practicing my putting 25 minutes before the match like I always do. I wasn’t feeling nervous at all.”
It showed, as Hanson repeatedly was able to bail himself out of trouble when he had a rare errant shot. Even with the lead, he kept his head.
“I wasn’t going to get too far ahead of myself after I built a lead,” Hanson said. “I just wanted to keep it going.”
Wierima writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune