Olson receives a call of a lifetime
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 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 Par 3, eighth hole, which is a 174-yard tee shot.
The first ace was 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 hole in one 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. "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 nine.
But Cavanagh was able to regain his composure and win hole 10 with a birdie, but lost 11 with a bogey.
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.
"I need to start hitting the ball better and my putting needs to be better," Cavanagh said. "But I do feel good about my game heading into (Saturday)."
After struggling to make the qualifying cut of 147, Fargo's Jon Miller made some noise himself, by eliminating the defending champion Connor Holland in the first round.
Proving that win wasn't a fluke, Miller won big over friend Matt Rubis 7 and 6 to advance as the lowest seed in the tournament at No. 64.
"This time, I got off to a quick start and birdied my first two holes for a 1-up lead," Miller said. "My only blip on the day came when I missed a five-foot birdie putt on five, but other than that, my putter was hot."
Miller sunk birdie putts of 25 feet on six and 10 feet on hole seven, while sinking an 18-foot par putt on eight for three straight wins.
The match was fully on Miller's side when he made eagle with a 15-foot putt on hole 12.
"I was shooting four or five under by then," Miller added. "It was just a good day."
Frazee's Beau Hanson also advanced with a 3 and 2 win over Matt Rachey, while Moorhead's Ben Welle knocked off his second University of Minnesota golfer in Charlie Braniff in convincing fashion 4 and 3.
Medalist Doug Jeans Jr. remained consistent with a 3 and 2 win over Pine to Palm vet Tony Vincelli.
But another tournament veteran and former Pine to Palm champion Greg Melhus, ended his bid after losing to Gopher Robert Bell 2 and 1.
The biggest gallery belonged to Detroit Lakes' Tanner Lane, but it wasn't enough as the sharp-shooting Gopher Shang Zhi had a strong back nine to win 5 and 4.
There will be two rounds played Saturday, with the morning starting at 7:26 a.m. and the afternoon round of eight at 2:09 p.m.
(Follow Brian Wierima on Twitter at DLSportsGuy.)