DETROIT LAKES, Minn.-Taking down defending champion Chris Swenson in the first round of Pine to Palm match play as the No. 64 seed was no surprise to Ben Strauman.
He came to the Detroit Country Club for the first time in two decades prepared to win.
"It was super fun," Strauman said. "Chris is a great player; he's got an unbelievable game and I can see why he won it last year. He rolls the ball well and hits it a mile."
Strauman was 2-up after five holes, but Swenson charged back to even the match at the turn. Strauman again got up two by the 14th hole and was dormie after sticking his approach close on the 15th and converting to go 3-up.
"It was kind of an ebb and flow; I got out early; he came back," Strauman said.
Swenson had a few struggles on the back nine and Strauman took advantage, but the Fergus Falls, Minn., native rallied with birdie on 16 and had a short putt to cut into the lead with a par on the 17th. His putt slid by left giving Strauman the win 2&1.
"I just kept hitting greens and made a couple putts," Strauman said.
From outside the player's perspective, Strauman appeared like he was playing for par and letting Swenson gamble, when necessary, but that was not the case.
"It probably looked like that because I was leaving all my birdie putts about three inches short right in the middle of the hole," Strauman said. "It wasn't mentally happening but that is what it looked like."
In fact, Strauman played far more carefree than Swenson dealing with the stress of having to live up to last year's success. Plus, a bit of anonymity gave Strauman an excellent mode to play the dark horse on Day 1 of match play and enjoy it.
"Nobody knows me up here," Strauman said. "I'm from Minneapolis and I play a lot of tournaments and I got lucky to get the defending champion. I had no pressure, so I can just go out and play."
Strauman has not played at Detroit Country Club since the mid-90s and also noted the senior status he holds in the championship division at 43 years of age.
"I've always liked this golf course and it's been 20 years since I've been up here," he said. "Everybody I've played with so far wasn't born. I'm easily one of the older ones in the field of 64."
While the victory is the biggest upset possible in tournament play at the Pine to Palm, winning came as no surprise to Strauman. In fact, when asked if he expected to show up and become the biggest story of match play Thursday.
"You kidding me; of course I did," he said. "You play to win. I know I have the game to play with these kids."
Strauman faces No. 33 Stefan Nelson in the next round.
One other top 10 seed was upset in No. 6 Greg Melhus who saw a 3-up lead midway through the front nine dwindle to 2-up at the turn, 1-up at hole 14 and conclude in a 1-up victory for No. 59 Logan Palmer.
Friday's round of 32 begins at 1:27 p.m. on hole No. 1 at Detroit Country Club with the new star of the tournament Strauman looking to continue his run as the 64-seed.
Round of 64 match finals
64 Ben Strauman (2&1) 1 Chris Swenson
2 Will Czeh (3&1) 63 Andrew MacFarlane
3 Andrew Israelson (3&2) 62 Jon Miller
4 Andrew Proctor (1-up) 61 Robert Wagner
5 Thomas Longbella (5&4) 60 Jared Lentz
59 Logan Palmer (1-up) 6 Greg Melhus
7 Nick Myhre (3&2) 58 Ryan Ames
8 Jackson Foth (2&1) 57 Jordan Smith
9 Pat Deitz (4&2) 56 Ben Unruh
10 Rick Kuhn (1-up) 55 Wyatt Blomseth
11 Bryant Buckellew (1-up) 54 Mitch Scrimgeour
53 Cade Montplaisir (2&1) 12 Erik Weiss
52 Tony Vincelli (1-up) 13 Dax Wallat
51 Andrew Passanante (4&3) 14 Cole Hanson
50 Spencer Adam (3&2) 15 Ryan Paskey
49 Adam Gronaas (1-up) 16 Gage Stromme
17 Mason Fiddle (2-up) 48 Max Savini
47 Nate Varty (3&2) 18 Jordie Siverson
46 John Fischer (1-up) 19 Colton Murphy
45 Lucas Johnson (3&1) 20 Patrick Traynor Johnson
21 Nathaniel Kahlbaugh (1-up) 44 Regan Steen
22 Brennan Hockman (1-up) 43 Dieter Zuehlke
23 Joe Christianson (5&4) 42 Daniel Sayler (42)
24 Tyler Nelson (4&2) 41 Ryan Steinert
40 Bill Carlson (5&4) 25 Lincoln Cizek
39 Ben Hauge (3&1) 26 Alex Schwab
38 Connor Holland (5&4) 27 Brock Ellingson
28 Michael Kosiek (1-up) 37 Terry Kragero
29 Kole Hallmark (1-up) 36 Matt Kulla
30 Connor Glynn (3&1) 35 Justin Redding
34 Austin Schultz (2&1) 31 Caleb Ketterling
33 Stefan Nelson (4&3 32 Dylan Naylor
Friday's round of 32 matchups
Ben Strauman (64) vs. Stefan Nelson (33)
Adam Gronaas (49) vs. Mason Fiddle (17)
Jackson Foth (8) vs. Bill Carlson (40)
Pat Deitz (9) vs. Tyler Nelson (24)
Andrew Proctor (4) vs. Kole Hallmark (29)
Tony Vincelli (52) vs. Lucas Johnson (45)
Thomas Longbella (5) vs. Michael Kosiek (28)
Cade Montplaisir (53) vs. Nathaniel Kahlbaugh (21)
Spencer Adam (50) vs. Nate Varty (47)
Nick Myhre (7) vs. Ben Hauge (39)
Rick Kuhn (10) vs. Joe Christianson (23)
Andrew Israelson (3) vs. Connor Glynn (30)
Andrew Passanante (51) vs. John Fischer (46)
Logan Palmer (59) vs. Connor Holland (38)
Bryant Buckellew (11) vs. Brennan Hockman (22)
Will Czeh (2) vs. Austin Schultz (34)