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Welle is Pine to Palm's 82nd champion

Ben Welle of Moorhead watches his tee shot on hole No. 14 at Detroit Country Club during the championship match of the Pine to Palm on Sunday. Brian Basham / Forum News Service

DETROIT LAKES -  Moorhead’s Ben Welle practiced consistency at its finest this past week and it paid off.

Welle won the 82nd Pine to Palm Golf Tournament’s championship Sunday at the Detroit Country Club after he finished tied for second with Greg Melhus for medalist honors. Grady Meyer won that honor with an eight-under par 134.  

Welle used straight tee shots and pin-point accurate approach shots to the green to down Matt Rachey 4 and 3 in the championship match.

“Once it gets deeper in qualifying, I put away my driver and just use my four iron to tee off and put down the middle of the fairway,” Welle said. “Even though my driver is straight, when you’re up in the match, you don’t have to put pressure on yourself.

“I just kept hitting down the middle all day and gave myself putts.”

Welle beat Mark Robinson 1-up in the morning semifinal match, while Rachey downed Thomas Strandemo 1-up, as well.

The match started with a win for Welle, as it did for much of the tournament.

The former Spud shot 9-under par alone on the first hole through his seven rounds of play in the tournament, including qualifying.

Sunday’s championship match was no different, as he sunk a birdie putt to take a 1-up advantage.

“That hole, I just felt good on the tee shot, it sets up well for my draw,” Welle said.

Rachey played right with Welle for most of the match, the only difference was the University of Minnesota Gopher fell into trouble a few times, which cost him.

One of those times came on hole five, where Rachey’s drive drifted in the right rough with the misfortune of landing behind several trees.

Welle found fairway and his approach shot landed just on the fringe, where he two-putted for birdie.

A lip-out putt from 12 feet downhill by Rachey put the Gopher down two, which stayed until after the turn.

“I thought I rolled my putts well today, and they were going in during other matches,” Rachey said. “They just were not going in today.”

Having a 2-up advantage at the turn played perfectly into Welle’s hands, as he stayed playing consistent, putting most of the pressure on Rachey.

“When you get the turn and are up a couple, you obviously feel good and put the pressure on your opponent, making him force some shots,” Welle said.

Rachey took hole seven after throwing a dart at the cup from the right rough, whereas Welle had a long 40-foot birdie putt, which was short.

The dagger came on holes 11 and 12, where Rachey found the right rough off the tee on 11 and Welle was fairway.

Welle’s approach landed inside 10 feet, while Rachey’s birdie putt ended up being downhill from 30 feet out.

Welle drained his, while Rachey’s effort when right of the cup.

Rachey found trouble again off the tee on 12 and ended up in the right rough, which is occupied by a bevy of trees.

Welle put his fairway approach shot within the 10-foot circumference of the hole and after Rachey hit bunker out of the rough, he conceded the hole and slipped down three.

“I drove the ball straight the first match of the day (semifinals), but couldn’t find the fairway in the championship match,” Rachey said.

The next two holes were halved, with the finale on 15, where Welle’s approach shot out of the fairway was right at the pin.

Rachey’s shot out of the right rough skipped past the green and was saved from out of bounds by the brick layering of the 16th tee box. By then, Rachey was in dire straits and Welle sunk his par putt for the win.

With the last two champions of Beau Hanson and Jon Trasamar not being able to defend their titles, the junior Jayhawk golfer at the University of Kansas is planning on a 2015 defense.

“This feels awesome, this one feels real good,” Welle said. “I am absolutely coming back, it’s a great tournament and I love playing here.”

In other Pine to Palm divisions, Fargo’s Kent Spriggs won the Mid-Am title, Scott Linnerooth took his second Senior’s championship and Chuck Renner wrapped up his fourth Super Seniors banner with a 21-hole victory.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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