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Brian Wierima / Forum News Service, Published August 10 2013

Four remaining golfers at Pine to Palm unique in own ways

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – There is a variety of golfing talent in the 81st Pine to Palm golf tournament semifinals, as the field of 64 is now down to four.

First, there is the flash and glamour in University of Minnesota senior men’s golf team captain Jon Trasamar, who is swinging a mean club.

The grit is provided by Pine to Palm veterans and former champions Rick Kuhn of Bismarck and Greg Melhus of West Fargo, who, between the two, own three tournament championships and eight final four appearances.

There is the local angle and hometown favorite Robert Wagner, who is a 1998 Detroit Lakes High School graduate.

What it all adds up to is yet another intriguing and unpredictable Pine to Palm final four.

“For a guy coming into the tournament and being content with just qualifying for match play, this is quite special,” said Wagner, who will face Melhus in one of the semifinal matchups. “But now that I’m here, I am not satisfied. I am playing the best golf of my life, and it just so happens to be at this tournament.”

Wagner won his Sweet 16 match 2 and 1 over Bobby Reuter, while he held onto a thriller over Fargo Davies’ Adam Gronaas 1-up in the quarterfinal round.

It came down to the 18th hole, with Wagner holding a 1-up advantage. A chip onto the green just held above the hole for Wagner, who sunk it and clinched his first-ever semifinal berth at the Pine to Palm.

“It was a lucky chip,” Wagner said.

The DL native, who now lives in St. Louis Park, Minn., and plays at the Minneapolis Golf Club, had a streak of birdies to key his victory over Gronaas.

Wagner made birdies on holes 10, 12, 13 and 15 to eventually hold a 1-up lead heading into the last hole.

“I felt good going into 18 with a 1-up lead, and he ended up in the trees off the tee,” Wagner said. “But he made a good shot and gave himself a chance.”

Trasamar hasn’t had a match like that yet. Instead his victories have been convincing.

That was the case Saturday, as he tore through Gophers teammate Tyler Lowenstein 5 and 4, then racked up seven birdies against Ohio State men’s golf team member Max Rosenthal for a 7 and 6 win.

Trasamar also won medalist laurels after shooting a 9-under-par 133. Winning both the medalist and championship is not an easy task, with only three doing so since 1985 in Andy Doeden (2001), Mike Podolak (1993) and Jim Sorenson (1985).

Trasamar has posted wins of 3 and 2, 4 and 3, 5 and 4 and 7 and 6.

“I feel I’ve been playing better as the week goes on after cleaning up my mistakes,” Trasamar said. “It’s helped that I’ve been able to keep the hammer down after building a lead.”

Trasamar’s length off the tee box has not been matched, which is evident on his par-five holes, where he has birdied hole five every time and hole one every time, but once.

“Being able to make birdie on the first hole helps, because it usually means I won it or at least halved it,” Trasamar said. “I’ve been giving myself good opportunities for birdie all week.”

The semifinals will tee off at 8 a.m. today and the championship match will start at 2:45 p.m. at the Detroit Country Club.

Saturday’s results

Round of 16

Jon Trasamar def. Tyler Lowenstein 5 and 4

Max Rosenthal def. Taylor Cavanagh 2 and 1

Rick Kuhn def. Jack Holmgren 1 up

Dominic Kieffer def. Nathan Anderson in 19 holes

Greg Melhus def. Pat Deitz 3 and 2

Alex Gaugert def. Larry Montplaisir 2 and 1

Robert F. Wagner def. Bobby Reuter 2 and 1

Adam Gronaas def. Chad Skarperud 5 and 3

Quarterfinals

Jon Trasamar def. Max Rosenthal 7 and 6

Rick Kuhn def. Dominic Kieffer 5 and 4

Greg Melhus def. Alex Gaugert 2 and 1

Robert F. Wagner def. Adam Gronaas 1 up

Today’s tee times

Semifinals

Hole No. 1

8: a.m.: Jon Trasamar vs. Rick Kuhn

8:10 a.m.: Greg Melhus vs. Robert F. Wagner

Wierima is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune