Pine to Palm: Carson Skarperud plays for something bigger in final four run; Semifinal matches set for Sunday

Grand Forks Red River senior Carson Skarperud's Pine to Palm tournament means a little more this year. After his uncle unexpectedly passed away in two weeks ago during The Birchmont in Bemidji, Skarperud is focused on making the loved ones around him proud. He beat Joe Christianson and Will Czeh on Saturday to secure a spot in Sunday's final four.

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Carson Skarperud, right, shakes hands after his 3-2 win over Will Czeh in the Championship Division quarterfinals on Aug. 13, 2022 in the 90th Pine to Palm at the Detroit Country Club.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES – If you walk along any of the 18 holes at the Detroit Country Club on Saturday during the Pine to Palm tournament, you will see a gallery of spectators following each group of golfers. For 17-year-old Carson Skarperud, playing for the people behind him means a little more this year.

Two weeks before Skarperud was gearing up for his second Pine to Palm, he and six other family members entered The Birchmont tournament in Bemidji. The Skarperud family routinely plays in the historic northern Minnesota match play events. However, this year's slate came with a heavy heart.

During The Birchmont, Matt Skarperud, Carson's uncle, unexpectedly passed away at Lake Bemidji State Park.

Matt, 48, grew up in Grand Forks with his brothers Chad, Ryan and Tim. The four boys, raised by Craig and Brenda Skarperud, were all within six years of each other. In an interview with the Grand Forks Herald, Tim said Matt will be remembered by family and friends for his love of family and golf.

"It's awesome to be around friends and family out here," Carson Skarperud said. "They're all so supportive. After we lost our Uncle Matt, being able to be out here with my family and play like this is awesome. It hasn't been easy, but weeks like this make it better."


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Carson Skarperud smiles after sinking a putt on No. 13 in the Championship Division quarterfinals on Aug. 13, 2022 in the 90th Pine to Palm at the Detroit Country Club.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Carson is one of four remaining players left from a field of 64. He beat 49th-seeded Will Czeh 3-2 after taking down 25th-seeded Joe Christianson on Saturday morning.

"Making sure to stay sharp and focused," Skarperud said on what the biggest challenge is during the week. "I played (33) holes in one day today. That's a lot of golf. I just try to stay sharp, stay ready and keep grinding."

Skarperud will be a senior at Grand Forks Red River high school in the fall, which makes him the youngest player left in the field by a wide margin. His semifinal opponent, Joshuaa Robards, is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. If he wins, he will take on either Nate Deziel or Ian Simonich, who golfs for North Dakota State University.

"Absolutely it does," Skarperud said when asked if a senior in high school gives him a chip on his shoulder. "The first step was making the cut. Then it was winning the first match. It goes on from there. I've proven I can compete with these guys."

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Carson Skarperud hits from the No. 4 fairway in the Championship Division quarterfinals on Aug. 13, 2022 in the 90th Pine to Palm at the Detroit Country Club.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Skarperud hasn't been in the final four in the Championship Division before, but he doesn't feel intimidated by the challenge that stands ahead. In his second summer of playing in the Pine to Palm, Skarperud said he feels more equipped mentally than a year ago.

"I have a little bit more experience here now," he said. "I feel ready to go every time I step on the box out here. A lot of it is about keeping your mind right because you win and lose these matches in your head. Take it shot by shot, and don't worry about anything other than that."

Win or lose, Skarperud is going to have his people behind him for as many holes as he plays. It's a reminder that weeks like the Pine to Palm mean much more than a few rounds of golf.

"My family means everything to me, and I have something to play for," Skarperud said. "I know how much tournaments like this meant to my uncle–to be able to be with us. He would be proud of me."


And then there were four

Of the 16 players who entered Saturday hoping to win the 90th Pine to Palm, only four remain. Skarperud, Robards, Simonich and Deziel each won two matches to claim spots in Sunday’s final four. Here’s how the quarterfinal action shook out:

Skarperud def. Czeh, 3-2

Czeh looked to build off the momentum of beating Detroit Lakes’ Tanner Lane 3-2 in his first match of the day. He took a 1-up lead with a par on No. 2 before Skarperud squared the match with a par on No. 4. Czeh retook the lead on No. 5 before Skarperud’s birdie on No. 7 evened the score again.

With a par on No. 8, Skarperud took his first lead of the match and went into the turn 1-up. He doubled the lead on No. 11 with a par before taking control with a 3-up par on No. 13. Both Czeh and Skarperud made par on the final three holes, closing out a quarterfinal win for the Grand Forks Red River Roughrider.

Robards def. Berger, 4-3

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Carson Skarperud, left, and Joshuaa Robards watch Will Czeh's tee shot on No. 5 in the Championship Division quarterfinals on Aug. 13, 2022 in the 90th Pine to Palm at the Detroit Country Club.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Robards took care of business in his quarterfinal match against 36th-seeded Sam Berger.

With the match square after six holes, Robards, the 37th seed, took a one-hole lead with a birdie on No. 7. He doubled it before the turn with a par on No. 9. Berger cut into the lead with a birdie on No. 10 before Robards answered with a birdie of his own on No. 11 to regain the 2-up lead.

On the par-five No. 12, Robards got in the driver’s seat with a birdie to take a three-hole lead. He put the match away with a par on No. 14, picking up a 4-3 win.

In his first match, Robards beat 53rd-seeded Breck Erholtz 5-4, while Berger claimed a 2-up win over 13th-seeded Jack Olson.

Simonich def. Schwamb, 6-5

Simonich, the 2020 Pine to Palm champion, is looking to repeat what he did two years ago. After beating seventh-seeded Brennan Hockmann 3-2, Simonich dominated his quarterfinal match against second-seeded and medalist Kyler Schwamb.


Simmonich won 6-5 over Schwamb to earn a match against his NDSU teammate on Sunday morning. Schwamb beat Jack Dudeck 4-3 in the round of 16 before falling in the quarterfinals.

Golf Genius did not have a posted scorecard for this match.

Deziel def. Nelson, 2-1

Nobody had a more hectic day on the course than Deziel.

After beating defending runner-up Ben Welle in a 23-hole playoff, the 14th-seeded Deziel outlasted sixth-seeded Brandon Nelson to earn a spot in Sunday’s semifinal.

Deziel made two birdies on the first three holes to take a 1-up lead over Nelson. The lead doubled with a par on No. 6 before a birdie on No. 9 put him 3-up.

One of the stranger sequences of the day came on No. 5. Deziel’s shot sailed into the Pine to Palm clubhouse before stopping in the hallway.

“It was inbounds by the lines designated (out of bounds,” Pine to Palm chairman Vern Schnathorst said. “He got a drop outside the clubhouse and halved the hole.”

Nelson got one back with a birdie on No. 11. It started a string of four consecutive holes where Deziel and Nelson traded wins. On hole No. 16, Nelson got another one back with a pair to trim the deficit before matching pars on No. 17 halted a comeback push.


Deziel’s 2-1 win over Nelson was far less dramatic than his 1-up win over Welle. The two battled it out over five playoff holes before Deziel got the winning putt to go on No. 5 for the win.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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