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Birchmont: Skarperud holds off brother to win men's championship medalist

Tim Skarperud held off his brother, Matt, to win men's championship medalist honors Tuesday in a rain-delayed Birchmont golf tournament at Bemidji Town & Country Club.

Tim, a two-time runnerup in this event, shot an even-par 72 to post a 5-under 137 in two days of qualifying. Matt Skarperud finished second at 141 after firing a 4-under 68. Another Skarperud brother, Chad, also advanced to match play with a 36-hole total of 148. Chad won the Birchmont in 1993 and was junior champion in 1987.

Defending champion Tom Jenkins automatically advanced to match play.

The matches will begin this morning, but not until nine golfers return to the course for a playoff at 7 a.m. Seven of the nine who finished at 153 will qualify.

Rain Delay

Raindrops in the morning and the threat of rain the entire day prompted Birchmont officials to monitor their computer radar images during Tuesday's action.

"Playing through rain is not a problem but player safety is our No. 1 priority," said Bemidji Town and Country Club pro Rick Grand. "Tuesday afternoon we watched the radar for over an hour and then at 3 p.m. we called the golfers off the course."

The reason for the delay was obvious to all who were gazing at the radar images or looking to the west. A cell which included lightning, thunder and heavy rain, was on the way and the golf course was directly in its path.

"At 3:15 p.m. the storm hit," Grand said. "There wasn't a lot of thunder or lightning over us but it was all around us. And we also had one-half inch of rain."

By 5 p.m. the storm had passed and Grand allowed golfers back to their positions on the course. He was hoping that the sky would clear, at least long enough to allow the golfers to play a few more holes. With the Birchmont schedule fixed, trying to weave in extra play can be a problem.

"If we hadn't been able to resume play on option was to cancel the round and (determine the Men's Championship match-play field) using only one round of qualifying," Grand said. "That wasn't a good option but it was an option."

Fortunately, the golfers were able to complete their play and today's schedule will not be altered.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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