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Skarperud showdown brings out friendly rivalry, pride in Birchmont pairing

Pitted against his father, Chad, in the Birchmont Golf Tournament, Jake Skarperud sunk a putt from about 20 feet out to clinch a 5-and-4 win in style.

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Jake Skarperud chips onto the fourth green on Thursday, July 29, 2021, during the 97th annual Birchmont Golf Tournament at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Family drama can easily cause a rift in a household. So Jake Skarperud made sure there was no drama on Thursday.

“At the end of the day, it’s a match against another person,” said Skarperud, a soon-to-be senior at Fargo Shanley High School. “Each person is trying to win, so you do what you can do to win.”

Pitted against his father, Chad, in the Birchmont Golf Tournament, Jake cruised into the men’s division quarterfinals with a suspense-free, 5-and-4 win at Bemidji Town and Country Club.

“In our family, we’re pretty competitive,” Jake said. “There was some smack talking going around (earlier in the week), but we both knew that we needed to get the job done on the first day to potentially play each other on the second day. We knew that’d be the most fun, win or lose. It was awesome to play with him.”

“I’d be lying to say conflicting thoughts don’t run through your mind at times,” added Chad, the Birchmont’s 1993 champion. “But at the end of the day, you want to do as well as you can and play with pride. Unfortunately, I didn’t have it today, and he played well and deserved to win.”

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Jake sunk a putt from about 20 feet on the 14th green, which clinched the victory in style. Chad met him near the hole, shook his hand and left the family’s Birchmont fortunes in his control.

“It’s a proud moment, obviously,” Chad said. “You just wish the best for your kids. I wish I could have played a little better to give him more of a match, but it’s kind of fun for him.”

“It’s a blast playing against your own dad. Being able to beat him is that much cooler,” Jake added. “He’s a great player. It’s just cool to be able to beat someone like that. … I think he’ll be rooting for me the rest of the way.”

Jake advances to Friday’s quarterfinals and will next face Jim Foss, who was a 6-and-5 winner over Bemidji’s Chris Curb.

The first defending champion also went down Thursday, as Danny Menton took top-seeded Johnny Larson to 20 holes before finishing the job in a rematch of last year’s final. Menton next meets Bemidji’s Andrew Israelson, who won 2-and-1 over Josh Bergrud.

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Danny Menton chips onto the fourth green on Thursday, July 29, 2021, during the 97th annual Birchmont Golf Tournament at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

On the other half of the bracket, former Bemidji State golfer Chris Swenson upset second-seeded Lucas Johnson with a 20-hole victory, and he’ll clash with Bemidjian Jay Gregory after Gregory topped Beck Erholtz in 19 holes.

Nate Adams was also a 5-and-4 winner over Nate Deziel, while Nick Schaefer snuck out a 1-up win over third-seeded Brandon Nelson.

The men’s championship groups tee off at 12:15 and 12:25 p.m. from hole No. 1 on Friday.

Semifinals set in other divisions

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Bemidji’s Abbie Kelm tees off from hole No. 7 on Thursday, July 29, 2021, during the 97th annual Birchmont Golf Tournament at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

A number of upsets shook up the women’s bracket on Thursday, as three lower-seeded golfers advanced into the semifinals.

Bemidji’s Abbie Kelm knocked off second-seeded Lily Bredemeier with room to spare, winning 5-and-4. She’ll next face Morgan Hetletved, who was a 3-and-1 victor over third-seeded Riley Crothers.

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Madison Herzog also defeated Renda Wakeman 5-and-3, which sets up a semifinal rematch of last year’s championship against Emily Israelson. The top-seeded Israelson won 6-and-5 over Bemidji’s Taylor Offerdahl on Thursday.

The women’s championship group will tee off at 9:10 a.m. from hole No. 1 on Friday.

In the men’s executive field, all four semifinalists advanced by 2-and-1 scores. Defending champion Joe McKean outlasted Nick Bergan, meaning he’ll next face Mike Fore after Fore ousted Steve Well.

On the other side of things, Troy Johnson bested Mark Hylden, and Joe Burgess trumped Derrick Johnson.

The four winners will tee off from No. 1 at 8:40 a.m. on Friday.

In the senior division, another defending champ in Paul Court will be moving on thanks to a 3-and-2 win over John McEnroe. Court will face Paul Daman, a former Bemidji High School girls golf coach, after Daman defeated Rick Vanyo 3-and-2.

Mark Lindberg will now go for a spot in the final after securing a 4-and-3 win over Scott Hinners. Standing in his way is Todd Schaefer, who topped Rick Passolt 1-up for the last semifinal spot.

The men’s seniors tee off from No. 1 at 12:35 p.m. on Friday.

The masters division was also whittled down to four. Jeff Tweeton cruised 6-and-5 for the second straight day, this time over Bob Paine, and will face David Lee after the latter’s 2-and-1 win over Jeff Wallin.

On the other side of things, Mike Antonovich cruised 7-and-5 over Glen Hasselberg , while Jack Seiberlich was a 6-and-5 winner over Mike Aakhus.

Tweeton, Lee, Antonovich and Seiberlich are scheduled to tee off from No. 1 at 1:35 p.m. on Friday.

The Junior 13-17 championship match is set, as BHS boys golfer Nick Yavarow topped Landon Miller 4-and-2 in Thursday’s semifinals. Meanwhile, Luke Thompson secured his spot as a 3-and-2 winner over Ryan Daman. Yavarow and Thompson will square off on Saturday.

The Junior 10-12 championship match is all locked up, as well. Logan Motzko knocked off Jackson Fogelson 1-up, while Beckett Grand snuck past Ryder Rivard by the same score. Motzko and Grand will compete for the weekend’s first championship when they tee off from No. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

The 97th annual Birchmont schedule

  • Monday: Qualifying rounds for men’s, men’s senior, men’s executive and junior divisions.

  • Tuesday: Qualifying rounds for women’s, masters divisions; second round for men’s, men’s senior, and men’s executive divisions. Match play begins for Junior 10-12 division.

  • Wednesday: Match play begins for all championship divisions. (Men’s letter C, D, E flights, men’s executive regular and Junior 10-12 divisions do not play.)

  • Thursday: Match play continues for all championship divisions. (Men’s letter A and B flights, senior regular, masters regular and junior 2nd and 3rd flights do not play.)

  • Friday: Match play continues for all championship divisions. (Women’s regular, junior champ, and junior 1st flight do not play.)

  • Saturday: Match play finals for all divisions.

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