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MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Jeff Peltier worked his way around trouble Thursday and held on to defeat Matt Skarperud 1-up in the Men's Championship division.

Peltier upsets Skarperud in Men's Championship division

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Peltier upsets Skarperud in Men's Championship division
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI -- Jeff Peltier is enjoying the moment although there have been times this week when the Bemidji resident had to shake his head in amazement.

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On the 18th green of his Men's Championship semifinal match against Matt Skarperud of Omaha on Thursday Peltier had one of those moments. He entered the 18th with a 1-hole lead but Peltier found the right bunker with his approach. After chipping out of the sand Peltier still faced an agonizing 15-footer for par while Skarperud was about five feet from the cup after three shots.

"That putt was not the one you want to have to make at the end of the day," Peltier admitted. "I was just trying to cozy it up. At worst I thought we'd be going up the hill on No. 1 (in a playoff)."

A playoff, however, was not needed. Peltier's putt dropped and the Bemidji resident officially stamped his ticket to Friday's quarterfinals.

"People consider this an upset win and I do too," Peltier said. "But deep down you have to be confident in your game. That confidence, and a little luck, helped me come out on top today."

Peltier had never made it to Birchmont Friday until this week and his next challenge will be Will Holmgren of Corcoran who defeated Paul Daman of Bemidji 4 and 3 Friday.

Thursday's other Men's Championship results found Tim Skarperud of Grand Forks thump Brady Ohman of Grand Forks 4 and 3, Zack Israelson of Staples outlast Ekren Miller of Bemidji 1-up in 20 holes, Jack Elliot of Fargo nip Nick Schaefer of Grand Forks 1-up, Bill Carlson of Fargo down Michael Roedl of Minneapolis 4 and 3 and Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji outgun Michael Strain of Motley 5 and 3.

Matt Skarperud was the division medalist but he couldn't duplicate that success against Peltier.

"I'm very disappointed," he said after the match. "I don't mind getting beat if I play my best but when I struggle, losing a match is very disappointing.

"I had a tough day putting but Jeff did what he had to do to get the ball in the hole and win the match," Skarperud continued. "I'd rather qualify last in the field and win the tournament than be the medalist and lose in the second round. But that's the way golf is. Some days are better than others."

Early in the match it appeared that Skarperud would be on his way to victory. Peltier lost No. 1 and No. 3 with bogeys and trailed by two holes early.

"I started really ugly," he said. "Maybe I was a little too amped up."

The tide turned on No. 4 when Peltier carded a birdie while Skarperud had a par.

"The rain came and, unfortunately, I made par," Skarperud said. "Not making birdie on that hole was the turning point."

The victory on No. 4 was the first of five consecutive hole wins by Peltier. Skarperud claimed No. 9 to trim his deficit to 2-down at the turn but he could only muster one more win on the back side as Peltier was able to preserve his match triumph by carding seven pars down the stretch.

"On the back nine I just tried to hang on, make pars and focus on my game," Peltier said. "The theme for me this week is to stay in the moment. I've never played on Friday before and I have no idea what's going to happen the rest of the way but all I want to do is stick with my game plan and see how far it takes me."

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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