DETROIT LAKES, Minn.-Ben Strauman had some Cinderella magic Thursday by knocking out the defending Pine to Palm champion. On Friday, he showed he has the game to win in more than one fashion, coming back from a four-hole deficit to advance to the round of 16 at Detroit Country Club.
Strauman trailed No. 33 Stefan Nelson 4-down after the opening seven holes, but managed to climb right back in the match starting at the turn.
"It's match play and this is a great golf course to make birdies on," Strauman said.
His comeback started with a string of birdies on holes nine, 10 and 11 and a win on 12 evened the match. Strauman's putter came alive as he sunk a five-footer on 9, a 25-footer on 10 and a 15-footer on 11, leading to squaring the match a hole later.
"I played as bad as I can play on the front nine and I just knew I had it in me," he said.
The shots kept coming as he parred hole 15 from under a pine tree and then stuck an 80-foot chip next to the pin to go 1-up on the next hole.
"Hitting it to a foot on 16 was a great shot," he said.
Aside from his shot-making abilities, the 43-year-old from Minneapolis has a load of experience, confidence and fortitude that has shown on the back nine both days of match play.
"I never give up," he said. "Apparently, I'm playing well down the stretch here but that doesn't mean it will happen tomorrow."
On 17, both players missed the green. Strauman was pin-high left fringe, while Nelson was 10 feet short and elected to go with the putter. Strauman got up and down and Nelson's putt from the grass left a testy eight-footer that would not fall, giving Strauman a 2&1 match victory on the same hole as his win over Chris Swenson on Thursday. Like he did with Swenson, the veteran player showed a lot of respect for his much younger opponents.
"Stefan is an unbelievable kid," said Strauman. "He has a temperament for this game and is so even-keeled. While it sucks to lose-to lose with confidence is something that can't be taught and he has it."
Playing in the same foursome were No. 22 Brennan Hockman and No. 11 Bryant Buckellew. Hockman led 1-up at the turn; Buckellew flipped the lead by hole 14 to lead by one and the duo dueled to extra holes.
Hockman had what appeared to be an easy win on the first extra hole nearly holing his chip from right of the green. Buckellew was 20 yards behind Hockman's ball with a shot that was going to take a lot of touch. He gave himself an eight-footer to stay alive and converted.
"We just battled the whole round," said Hockman. "It was nerve-wracking but so much fun."
On the next hole, Hockman was in the fairway while Buckellew was deep in the trees right. After watching Hockman stick his approach, Buckellew found a hole in the foliage and set up a matching uphill putt with another amazing approach shot.
Buckellew's putt attempt slid left of the lip and Hockman stepped up and buried his for the win.
"It's fun but stressful at the same time,' he said. "It's good to be tested, but yet, you have to play your game and keep moving forward."
Hockman is getting some lively action from a new driver and has used a strong putter to advance to the round of 16.
Two big names from qualifying fell in close matches. No. 34 Austin Schultz took out No. 2 Will Czeh 1-up. No. 30 Connor Glynn defeated No. 3 Andrew Israelson 2&1.
No. 5 Thomas Longbella and No. 9 Pat Deitz represented their top 10 qualifying seedings with knockout 7&6 victories. No. 4 Andrew Proctor advanced 2&1 over No. 29 Kole Hallmark.
No. 7 Nick Myhre and No. 8 Jackson Foth won convincingly. Myhre defeated No. 39 Ben Hauge 3&1. Foth led the entire match of a 4&3 win versus Bill Carlson.
Players will be back on the course Saturday, Aug. 11, for tee times beginning at 7:27 a.m. in the round of 16.
Round of 32 results
64 Ben Strauman (2&1) 33 Stefan Nelson
49 Adam Gronaas (3&2) 17 Mason Fiddle
8 Jackson Foth (4&3) 40 Bill Carlson
9 Pat Deitz (7&6) 24 Tyler Nelson
4 Andrew Proctor (2&1) 29 Kole Hallmark
45 Lucas Johnson (3&2) 52 Tony Vincelli
5 Thomas Longbella (7&6) 28 Michael Kosiek
53 Cade Montplaisir (2&1) 21 Nathaniel Kahlbaugh
34 Austin Schultz (1-up) 2 Will Czeh
50 Spencer Adam (4&2) 47 Nate Varty
7 Nick Myhre (3&1) 39 Ben Hauge
10 Rick Kuhn (1-up) 23 Joe Christianson
30 Connor Glynn (2&1) 3 Andrew Israelson
46 John Fischer (1-up) 51 Andrew Passanante
38 Connor Holland (3&2) 59 Logan Palmer
22 Brennan Hockman (1-up) 11 Bryant Buckellew
Sweet 16 matchups
64 Ben Strauman Vs 49 Adam Gronaas
8 Jackson Foth Vs 9 Pat Deitz
4 Andrew Proctor Vs 45 Lucas Johnson
5 Thomas Longbella Vs 53 Cade Montplaisir
34 Austin Schultz Vs 50 Spencer Adam
7 Nick Myhre Vs 10 Rick Kuhn
30 Connor Glynn Vs 46 John Fischer
38 Connor Holland Vs 22 Brennan Hockman