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Kretchman stuns top seed at Pine to Palm, faces Taylor Cavanagh next

Perham's Taylor Cavanagh will play Kretchman in the next round. Cavanagh defeated former champion Todd Hillier 5 and 4 Thursday. Brian Basham/Forum News Service

DETROIT LAKES — Odds were against Fargo Davies graduate Tanner Kretchman, who found himself down three holes with four remaining in the first round of the 82nd Pine to Palm golf tournament on Thursday at the Detroit Country Club.

Add to that the fact that he was down to the medalist winner and Fargo native Grady Meyer, who also is a sophomore on the University of Minnesota men’s golf team and was playing as well as any golfer in the tournament.

But Kretchman didn’t worry about the odds. Instead, he decided to beat them – and Meyer – in a shocking comeback and advance to the second round with a 1-up victory.

Kretchman scored birdie on his final five holes to secure the win, after he trailed the Gophers golfer for the entire match, which started being down three through five holes.

“Grady got on top early, and I knew I had to make something happen soon or I would be out of it,” Kretchman said.

The swoon in the tide happened on hole 14, when Kretchman was able to stick an approach shot within a few feet of the cup for birdie.

From there, he would sink four more birdies and steal all momentum away from Meyer.

“I stuck that one close on 14, and that got my confidence going,” Kretchman said. “From there, I could start playing more aggressive.”

With Meyer’s lead growing so quick out of the gates, Kretchman’s game plan became that much more simple.

“I was able to get more aggressive with my shots and step up to the ball and just go for it,” Kretchman said. “That’s how I played my last six holes.”

Kretchman’s senior year at Fargo Davies was quite eventful, after he helped his team to a state runner-up finish, as well as an individual second-place spot behind Riley Johnson.

Johnson also won 3 and 2 at the Pine to Palm on Thursday over Michael Greenberg.

He will be playing for the Minnesota State Moorhead men’s basketball team this coming year.

Kretchman’s upset of the top seed sets him up to play Pine to Palm veteran Taylor Cavanagh of Perham, Minn., who downed former champion Todd Hillier 5 and 4.

No. 2 seed Ben Welle of Moorhead, who is a sophomore on the University of Kansas men’s golf team, handled Drew Massey 4 and 3 to advance.

Welle and Fargo’s Greg Melhus tied for the medalist runner-up position, so the former Spuds golfer was certainly already playing well heading into match play.

“On the first fairway, I drove it exactly where I hit it in qualifying and that was right down the middle,” Welle said. “I made a two-putt birdie and that really got my round going well.”

It continued into the par-5 fifth hole, where he was able to lay an iron shot out of the rough on the green and an eventual eagle putt. By the turn, Welle led Massey 2-up.

“On the back nine, I just wanted to keep my drives straight and force him to make the putts,” Welle said. “My driver has been working well all week. I’ve been playing solid thus far.”

Another Fargo golfer, Thomas Strandemo, also had a comeback to beat Cade Montplaisir 1-up, after he trailed late in the match.

Another hole-in-one was sunk Thursday, which incidentally happened on the same hole Wednesday.

Staples native Zach Israelson drained his ace on the eighth hole, a 174-yard shot. He went on to win 3 and 2 over Robert Reuter.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.