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81st Pine to Palm Golf Tournament: First-round qualifying

Michael Greenberg watches his drive on the par four 11th hole during Tuesday afternoon’s Championship qualifying at the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

When recent Detroit Lakes graduate Karter Smith finished his first round of qualifying for the 81st Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club Tuesday, Laker assistant coach Vern Schnathorst asked how he did.

“I did OK,” was Smith’s reply.

“What you shoot?” Schnathorst asked.

“Shot a 69.”

“Yeah, not too bad,” Schnathorst said.

The humble attitude of Smith is apparent after each round he plays, bad or good. It’s hard to guess how Smith shot from his consistent, even-keel demeanor.

Smith’s two-under par 69 is just three shots off the lead for Pine to Palm medalist honors, while having more than an inside track of qualifying for the 64-man field for match play, which starts Thursday.

“I felt I played pretty well and was two-under after nine, but shot some bogies on the back nine,” Smith said. “But I made a 25-foot birdie putt on 18 to end the round well.”

Smith graduated from DLHS after making his mark on the Laker boys’ golf program, by playing in four state tournaments, winning a pair of Class 2A championships and finishing as state runner-up twice individually.

But his success didn’t stop with DL’s state team runner-up finish in this year’s Class 2A meet, in fact it happened to get better.

Smith won the Junior PGA’s Boys’ Championship Match Play earlier this summer, after beating Ted Urch of Owatonna in the title match 1-up at Dacotah Ridge Golf Course in Morton.

He also clinched the Section Junior PGA Players’ Tour Series “A” points race, after outpacing the competition in five tournaments, two of which he won.

Smith’s trek through the 64-man field during the Junior PGA’s Match Play Championship was rugged, after playing six matches in three days, with three of them going 18 holes and one 21 holes.

“That was a grind for him,” said Kris Smith, Karter’s father and owner of Ironman Golf Course in Detroit Lakes. “He was the cardiac kid in that tourney.”

With the Junior PGA Match Play Championship similar to the Pine to Palm, Smith will enter Wednesday’s final round of qualifying as one of many favorites to survive match play on his home course.

“Obviously I know the course well and know where to shoot and not to take a chance,” said Karter Smith, who will be playing for the Drake University men’s golf team this fall. “I’d like to get medalist, but you just have to play well and see where you finish.”

Smith does have a trail of players in front of him, led by 20-year-old Dominic Kieffer of Byron, Minn., who fired a six-under par 65. Kieffer also plays for the Colorado State University men’s golf team.

Second place goes to each of Jacob Montplaisir of Gilbert, Ariz., who is a sophomore on the Mesa Community College (Ariz.), the University of Minnesota’s Jon Trasamar and Robert Wagner of Minnesota, who each finished with a five-under par 66.

Two-time Pine to Palm champion (1991 and 2005) Rick Kuhn shot a four-under 67, followed by Bill Carlson and Bryant Buckellew with a 68, while Pat Deitz is tied with Smith at 69.

The first cut consists of the low 148 players and ties, with Wednesday second-day of qualifying continuing to determine the field of 64.

The Mid-Am medalist after two-rounds of qualifying was Kent Spriggs of Fargo, who shot a 70-67-137 (five-under), easily bettering second place finisher Jay Olafson of Fargo, who finished with a 73-69-142.

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