Birchmont golf: Skarperud brothers will meet in Men's Championship semifinals
Friday's Men's Championship results guaranteed that the Skarperud clan will be represented in today's title match. The question that remains to be answered, however, is: which one?
During Friday's quarterfinals Matt Skarperud, Chad Skarperud and Ryan Skarperud all were in action and when the final shots were fired Matt and Chad prevailed in their matches while Ryan lost.
Matt and Chad both were playing in the division's upper bracket and as fate would have it, they are paired against each other in today's 8:25 a.m. semifinals.
The lower-bracket match-up pits Johnny Larson of Clements, Minn. against Michael Slominski of Grand Forks.
Matt Skarperud, of Omaha, thumped defending Birchmont champion Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, Mich. 6 and 5 Friday while Chad Skarperud, who lives in Fargo, tipped Sam Matthew of Roseville 1 up.
For the second time in as many matches Larson needed 20 holes to survive, as he birdied the second playoff hole to nip Jake Sanders of Crookston.
Slominski ended Ryan Skarperud's title hopes with a 2 and 1 decision.
"We've never met in a head-to-head match," Chad said of today's battle against his brother. "At this point we're in a no-lose situation and whoever wins, hopefully, he will win with birdies."
Chad expects the match to be very competitive but he also is looking forward to the battle.
"Obviously, there will clearly be the brotherly competitiveness between the two of us but at the same time it will be fun for us to play each other."
Chad had to fight his way into today's semifinals as he was 3-down after 12 holes. He rallied with wins on No. 13, No. 14 and No. 15 to draw even and took a lead with a par on No. 17.
Matthew's tee shot on No. 18 found the pond and he was facing a bogey putt when Chad Skarperud's par attempt missed by inches.
"After Sam hit into the hazard I knew bogey would, at worst, halve the hole," Chad Skarperud said. "Because of that I was playing for bogey."
Matt Skarperud had an easier match as he closed Lilleboe after 13 holes.
"I played solid golf all the way around," Ryan Skarperud said. "The key is match play is not giving an opening to your opponent. I grabbed the lead and I made it stand up."
Ryan Skarperud forged a 2 up lead at the turn and turned it into an unbeatable cushion by capturing the first three holes on the back nine.
His experience could prove an advantage today as he reached the semifinals last summer where he lost to eventual runner-up Kevin Krigbaum.
His experience also will be a personal ally.
"I'm 37 now and I know how to manage my game more than I did when I was in my 20s," Ryan Skarperud said. "I know what I am capable of doing and what I'm not capable of doing.
"And to be successful in match play you need to have true course management."
Slominski is the rookie of the remaining foursome as he failed to win a championship match in his previous two Birchmonts. The 21-year-old walk-on golfer at UND is making up for it this year, however.
"This summer I've hit the ball well. The only thing that was holding me back was my putter," Slominski said. "Friday the putter was a friend."
Solminski is eagerly awaiting today's match and he plans to take a relaxed approach to the situation.
"You can't allow your emotions to get to you," he said. "On Friday I and told myself to play my game. If I lose a hole, I'll move on. If I win a hole, I'll try to keep it up."
After playing overtime in his past two matches Larson is happy to be moving on but he wouldn't mind winning a match in regulation.
"You get pretty tired when you play 20 holes and that makes me want to play harder (in the semifinals) so I don't have to do it again," he said. "But a 'W' in 20 holes is better than getting closed out in 12," he added.