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Perfectly positioned: Bergrud shoots 71-67-138 to capture medalist honor at Birchmont

Sam Matthew hits from the No. 1 fairway during Tuesday's qualifying round at the Birchmont. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Josh Bergrud of Grand Forks has played in nine Birchmonts through the years and won the Junior Championship in 2006.

His experience has taught him that earning a favorable seed for the match-play portion of the competition is a key to success.

"My goal during the first two days was getting seeded high enough to make it as easy as possible for the match-play," Bergrud, who took the Men's consolation crown last summer, said. "I thought I was playing well enough to get into the top 10 and that's what I was hoping to do."

During Monday's opening round Bergrud fashioned a 1-under-par 71 and was on his way to claiming a top-10 position. Tuesday he fared even better as he carded the day's low round of 67. That performance vaulted Bergrud past the competition and was rewarded with the medalist honor.

Bergrud's will be the second seed in the match-play field. Defending champion Johnny Larson of Springfield, Minn. will hold the top spot but Bergrud, by virtue of his 71-67-138, will head the lower bracket.

Among his challengers will be Paul Daman of Bemidji who backed Monday's stellar 69 with a steady 70 on Tuesday for a 36-hole total of 139.

Bill Carlson of Fargo placed third in the medalist chase at 71-70-141 while Collin Lervick of Chanhassen and Logan Palmer of Harwood, N.D. each finished at 143.

Sam Matthew of Roseville shot 68-76-144 while finishing at 145 were Chris Curb of Bemidji, Jake Sanders of Crookston and Tim Skarperud of Grand Forks.

Bergrud's lone blemish on Tuesday's round was a bogey on No. 18. Prior to that he had 11 pars and birdies on Nos. 4, 8, 9, 10, 15 and 17.

"I was going for a card with no 5s and a bogey-free round but I found the trees on the left with the tee shot on No. 18," Bergrud said. "I had to punch out and that led to the bogey."

Course management is Bergrud's main weapon and he plans to continue using that tool this week.

"My secret is to not hit the driver on every hole," he said. "This is a short course and the key is to find the fairway.

"After the first two days I'm very excited about the rest of the week," Bergrud continued. "I'm playing well but I know that the hard part lies ahead."

Carlson was in the same foursome as Bergrud for Tuesday's round and he adopted a similar philosophy heading into this week.

"My goal was to play as well as possible and see how far that takes me," Carlson said. "My first two rounds were good but in match play it's different because you have to play with the nerves."

While Carlson hit the shots during Tuesday's round that led to his 70, he also had help on the bag.

Acting as his caddie was Amy Anderson , the 2008 Birchmont Women's champion and a veteran golf who has played competitively around the world.

"She knows these greens and she knows how to play this course," Carlson, who will be a sophomore at North Dakota State this fall, said. "And she made sure I was making smart decisions.

"It was really nice to have Amy caddie for me."

The final two spots in the 32-man match-play field were determined by a playoff as three golfers tied for those two positions. Surviving the playoffs were Dave Grand of St. Cloud and Sam Shafer of Brooklyn Park. The loser was Jim Foss of Roseau.

Shafer will meet Larson in today's opener while Grand will face Bergrud.

The Men's Championship elimination rounds begin at 8:03 a.m. today.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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