Birchmont men's championship: Syvertson advances
Jeff Wiltse of Bemidji stops Rob Pemberton of Redby
Match-play scores can be deceiving as a golfer can play poorly and win 3 and 2 or nail every shot and lose 3 and 2.
Wednesday during the first round of the Birchmont Men’s Championship elimination play, Tyler Syvertson of Bemidji and Jeff Cannon of Golden Valley were at the top of their games and both probably would have advanced had fate not made them early adversaries.
On this day Syvertson prevailed 2 up but he needed to play his best to advance into the second round.
“Jeff and I both played very well,” said Syvertson, who will face Matt Skarperud of Omaha, Neb., in today’s action. “In match play you want to win but having both golfers play well is what matters. We did that (Wednesday). Jeff finished 1-under par and I was 3-under par.”
Syvertson is from East Grand Forks, but has made Bemidji his home since attending Bemidji State. He also is a veteran of the Birchmont with 12 tournaments under his belt, including nine in the Men’s Championship division.
Prior to Wednesday Syvertson’s resume included only one win in the championship match-play field.
Syvertson qualified with rounds of 71-74—145 and was seeded ninth in this year’s field. Cannon was the 23rd seed at 75-76—151, but Wednesday he played much better than his seeding would indicate.
“When you hit it straight this course is fun to play,” Syvertson said. “If you are in the trees the round becomes a nightmare. We both got off the tee very well and if either one of us made any mistake we lost the hole.”
Syvertson didn’t make many mistakes Wednesday and he knows that trend must continue if he hopes to go deep into the tournament.
“I’m ready to make a run,” he said. “I’m playing with the confidence that comes with experience. When you get older your talent level may go down but the mental approach improves. I’m playing relaxed and I’m having fun. It’s always fun to play people like the Skarperuds, Tom Jenkins, Johnny Larson and Kevin Krigbaum.
“They are all good golfers and good guys.”
Krigbaum, of Brooklyn Park, will not be a future opponent of Syvertson’s as last year’s runner-up was defeated Wednesday 6 and 4 by Bill Carlson of Fargo.
In today’s action, Carlson will tangle with Chad Skarperud of Fargo, who bounced Matt Hiller of Grand Forks 7 and 6.
Wednesday’s other upper-bracket results saw Sam Matthew of Roseville edge Alex McElhaney of Santa Barbara, Calif., 2 and 1, Matt Skarperud trim Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji 1 up, Chris Curb of Bemidji outlast Josh Bergrud of Grand Forks 1 up in 20 holes and defending champion Eric Lilleboe of Okemos, Mich. down Brett Severson of Hawley 5 and 3.
“It is good to get that first match out of the way,” Lilleboe said. “I played all right but I’ll need to play better. I had a lot of pars and played as well as I needed to.”
Lilleboe won the first two holes and stretched his advantage to 4 up at the turn. An eagle at No. 10 expanded his cushion to 5 up and it was only a matter of how many holes it would take to close the match.
“I think I’m playing well enough to defend but I’ve learned that patience is important,” Lilleboe said. “When you play so many holes you are going to have some good holes and some bad holes. The key is to play well when it counts.”
Wednesday’s Men’s Championship survivors in the lower bracket include Johnny Larson of Clements, Minn., who downed Michael Strain of Motley 6 and 5; Chase Jackson of Bemidji, who toppled Duane Wages of Grand Forks 4 and 3; Jake Sanders of Crookston, who tipped Mike Levitt of Bemidji 2 and 1; and Jeff Wiltse of Bemidji, who stopped Rob Pemberton of Redby 3 and 2.
Wednesday’s other results saw Tom Jenkins of Plymouth thump Luke Sheetz of Grand Rapids 5 and 4, Michael Slominski of Grand Forks tip Tim Fiechtner of Fargo 2 and 1, Tim Skarperud of Grand Forks eliminate Brad Johnson of LeSueur 6 and 5 and Ryan Skarperud of Fargo edge Brandon Myers of Motley 1 up.
Today’s second round tee times begin at 8:54 a.m. and extend through 9:21 a.m.