The 87th Pine to Palm golf tournament is down to four individuals after 36 holes of golf at Detroit Country Club Saturday, Aug. 10 in Detroit Lakes.
The top seed Andrew Israelson got off to a rocky start trailing by one after three holes but a big putt on hole No. 4 evened the match and he never trailed again. He took the lead on the par-5, fifth hole and held it leading by two on the sixth hole and three by the 13th en route to a 3&2 victory over Moorhead's Ian Simonich.
"The putt I made on four kickstarted everything and turned everything around," said Israelson. "I just needed to hit the greens. I was putting so well. Every hole I missed a green on, those were the holes I was losing. If I got on the green I rolled the rock pretty good."
Israelson stopped the upset streak of the Moorhead high junior. Simonich qualified 57th after a tough second day of qualifying but played excellent golf one opening day and during match play all week.
Fargo's Alex Skarperud ended Rick Kuhn's bid to be the only golfer to win Pine to Palm titles in three different decades with a 4&3 victory.
"It feels great," said Skarperud. "I played really well and it was nice to have my dad on the bag. It was awesome."
After splitting the first two holes, Kuhn took his only lead on the par-3, third holding it until Skarperud answered back on the par-4 sixth. A clutch putt on the ninth hole gave the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichoke his first lead of the match and he built on it quickly.
"I hit the ball well, had a few hiccups, but it was definitely my putting," Skarperud said. "I made a lot of putts and it was nice to see them fall."
Skarperud won holes 10, 11 and 12 to build a 4-up lead clinching on the 15th green.
"It feels pretty good," he said. "I'm going to stick to the game plan and play how I've been playing. We'll see how it goes."
Concordia College head men's golf coach Joe Christianson brought his team with him to the tournament and is the only one still standing after surviving a birdie-laded comeback effort by Hawley's Cody Cook late in the match to advance 1-up.
"That was unbelievable," he said.
Christianson had what appeared to be a lock on the match leading 3-up after 15 holes, but Cook rallied with birdie putts on 16 and 27 and had a look at a downhill birdie on 18 to tie the match that just stopped short.
"If you expect them to make them it's a little less shocking," said Christianson.
Close matches are nothing new to the Cobber coach. He has won three matches in a row 1-up.
The 36-hole stretch in slightly warmer conditions also played a factor. Neither Cook nor Christianson got off to a strong start on their second rounds of the day.
"I just didn't put myself in trouble," he said.
Christianson made threes on holes five through eight and got into a rhythm. He has gotten his game into sync playing more golf the past two weekends than he has all summer.
Maple Grove's Nate Adams' victory puts two North Dakota State University Bison in the final four, along with Israelson, after defeating Pat Deitz 2&1.
Much like Skarperud's win, Adams erased an early one-hole deficit, flipped the match on the front side and poured it on early in the back nine. After taking his first lead on the par-4, seventh, he won hole Nos. 8, 9 and 12 to lead 4-up. Deitz got two back but the players halved the 17th to give Adams the victory.
Adams opened the day defeating No. 26 Patrick Traynor 1-up.
Israelson, Simonich and Cook all took down Detroit Lakes golfers in the round of 16.
Israelson defeated Tanner Schnathorst 4&3; Simonich dispatched Isaac Cihak 5&3; Cook defeated Nathan Ginnaty 1-up.
Deitz took out 2010 champion Todd Hillier 1-up. Skarperud was a 1-up winner over Keaton Lausch.
Christianson defeated No. 5 Bill Carlson 1-up and Kuhn found a way against hot-starting Bryant Buckellew 5&3.
The grind continues on championship Sunday with the semifinals beginning at 8 a.m. on the first hole
No. 1 Israelson faces No. 12 Christianson. No. 10 Adams plays No. 30 Skarperud with the finals to follow in the afternoon.
Pine to Palm quarterfinals
ANDREW ISRAELSON (1) 3&2 IAN SIMONICH (57)
JOE CHRISTIANSON (12) 1-up CODY COOK (4)
NATE ADAMS (10) 2&1 PAT DEITZ (34)
ALEX SKARPERUD (30) 4&3 RICK KUHN (6)
Round of 16
ANDREW ISRAELSON (1) 4&3 TANNER SCHNATHORST (16)
IAN SIMONICH (57) 5&3 ISAAC CIHAK (24)
CODY COOK (4) 1-up NATHAN GINNATY (13)
JOE CHRISTIANSON (12) 1-up BILL CARLSON (5)
PAT DEITZ (34) 1-up TODD HILLIER (50)
NATE ADAMS (10) 1-up PATRICK TRAYNOR (26)
ALEX SKARPERUD (30) 1-up KEATON LAUSCH (19)
RICK KUHN (6) 5&3 BRYANT BUCKELLEW (22)