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Larson wins rematch with Skarperud

Chris Curb eyes a putt during Thursday's 1 up victory over Sam Matthew in the Men's Championship division. Curb will take on Josh Bergrud in today's action. Brian Matthews | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Matt Skarperud (above) stopped defending champion Johnny Larson in Thursday's Men's Championship second round. Last year Larson defeated Skarperud in the Men's final. Brian Matthews | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI - Last summer Johnny Larson of Springfield won the Men's Championship by stopping Matt Skarperud of Omaha in 16 holes. Thursday at the Birchmont the two combatants staged the rematch in the second round and, once again, Larson prevailed.

But it took a par on the first extra hole to do it.

The extra-hole affair was set up by a regulation finish which saw Skarperud win No. 16 to take a 1 up lead only to see Larson answer with a birdie on No. 17. The birdie was set up with a precision approach which came to rest four feet short of the pin.

Larson made the putt and the match was all-square heading into No. 18.

Both posted conceded pars on the final hole of regulation but the match finally ended when Larson claimed the 19th.

Larson's reward for his extra-hole win is a battle with Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji in today's 12:09 p.m. semifinal matchup. On Thursday Palmiscno won No. 18 with a par to eliminate Tim Skarperud of Grand Forks.

Today's other upper-bracket battle pits Duane Wages of Grand Forks against Tom Jenkins of Plymouth. In Thursday's round Wages defeated Bill Carlson of Fargo 3 and 2 while Jenkins posted a 3 and 2 win over Bob Brink of Bemidji.

In the lower bracket medalist Josh Bergrud of Grand Forks will square off against Chris Curb of Bemidji. Bergrud stopped Michael Strain of Motley 2 and 1 Thursday while Curb outlasted Sam Matthew of Roseville 1 up.

Also locking horns today are Luke Sheetz of Grand Rapids and Collin Lervick of Chanhassen. Sheetz downed Jack Elliot of Fargo 2 up Thursday while Lervick belted Daniel Cavanagh of Perham 6 and 4.

Jenkins never trailed in his match against Brink. A birdie on No. 3 gave the 2009 Birchmont champion the lead and a par on No. 5 and birdies on No. 6 and No. 7 increased his cushion to 4 up.

Jenkins maintained that advantage until the par-3 No. 14 which Brink won on the strength of a tee shot that settled a foot or two from the cup.

When both golfers registered pars on No. 15 and No. 16 Jenkins had his victory.

"I think the key hole in the match was No. 11 where I had a sand save with a 15-foot putt," Jenkins, who was 3-under par for his 16 holes of golf, said. "Bob didn't play as well as he might but I definitely played better than I did on Wednesday.

"Playing someone from Bemidji who is as good a golfer as Bob is, and winning the match, is a big accomplishment," Jenkins continued. "Bob is a great guy to play with. He is very cordial on the course and, overall, I couldn't have asked for a better day."

Bergrud didn't play his best golf of the tournament on Thursday but he made the shots when they counted.

Among the latter was a 110-yard approach on No. 17. The shot found the cup for an eagle and put the finishing touch on the 2 and 1 win.

"I struggled a little off the tee and I didn't make any putts but I still managed to win," he said. "On the eagle I hit it right of the hole but it spun back and went in.

"I expected to make it this far but I know it's only going to get harder from now on. I think I'll have to play better on Friday," Bergrud, who shot 2-under-par, added.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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