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Brian Wierima / Forum News Service, Published August 07 2013

Gophers leave their mark again at Pine to Palm

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – For much of the past decade, the University of Minnesota golfers have cast a maroon-and-gold shadow over the Pine to Palm golf tournament by sending multiple competitors each year to the prestigious amateur tournament held at the Detroit Country Club.

The Gophers have made their presence felt through the years, with a bevy of U of M golfers gathering awards or playing deep into match play.

Since 2006, three Golden Gophers have claimed Pine to Palm silver by winning medalist laurels.

That number became four after Wednesday’s second day of qualifying ended.

Gopher senior Jon Trasamar joins fellow U of M golfers Erik Van Rooyen (2011), Cameron White (2007) and Clayton Rask (2006) to win medalist honors.

Trasamar’s two sub-70 rounds of 5-under-par 66 and 4-under 67 for a final 133 was two strokes better than North Dakota State sophomore Bill Carlson’s and Detroit Lakes native and current St. Louis Park resident Robert Wagner’s

7-under 135.

“It’s cool to be medalist and join some former teammates who also won medalist honors here,” said Trasamar, who is a redshirt senior at the U of M. “It’s been a cool experience playing here over the years. Coach (John) Carlson loved playing here, and now six to eight of us always plan on coming every year.”

Trasamar’s game was on both days, giving himself chances for 10- to 15-foot birdies on many of his holes.

“(Tuesday) I was hitting the ball well and putting it on the greens for good birdie chances,” Trasamar said. “Today, I wasn’t playing as well, but I took advantage of the par-5 holes and made birdie on all of them. Wednesday was much more of a grind, though.”

Seven of the eight Gophers qualified for match play, including Alex Gaugert, who shot a 4-under 138 to tie for seventh, while Jon Dutoit was 3 under for a 139 to tie for 10th.

“The competition is certainly deeper this year, with a ton of good high school players and young Mid-Ams playing well,” Trasamar said. “You’re going to need to show up to advance.”

The 33-year-old Wagner, who is a DLHS graduate and has played the DCC course “thousands” of times, was excited entering the second day of qualifying after he shot a 5-under par 66 Tuesday.

“Medaling wasn’t a goal coming into the tournament, but after shooting for a 66 in the first round, I was going for it,” Wagner said. “Tuesday, I was striking the ball well and hit 17 greens, and I was putting well on the back nine (his first nine).”

Wagner was 4 under at the turn and churned out pars on his final nine to put himself in medalist contention.

He was even after the front nine, then made birdies on holes 10, 12 and 13, but stumbled a bit with bogeys on 15 and 16.

“But I made birdie on 18, so I felt pretty good to end the round like that,” Wagner said. “This is the best I’ve played in this tournament, yet. This is the best golf of my life.”

Wagner will face Caleb Ketterling in the first round of play.

Two-time Pine to Palm champion Rick Kuhn was right in the thick of things, as usual, after he finished with scores of 67-69 for a final 6-under-par 136 to tie for fourth with Colorado State’s Dominic Kieffer, who was the first-day lowman with a 6-under 65.

Kuhn, who won titles in 1991 and 2005, was on both days, by hitting his fairways, greens and putting.

“I left a few putts out there, but I’m just having fun playing with some good, young golfers,” Kuhn said. “I’m looking forward to match play.”

Wierima is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune