WESTFIELD CENTER — Even though Medina High graduates Pete Skirpstas and Patrick Luth knew each other beforehand, the two got close through 18 holes at Westfield Group Country Club.
Like both-finishing-at-73 type of close. Skirpstas and Luth finished 1-over par through the first round of the 96th Ohio Open.
“We’ve hung out a couple times and hit some balls on the range,” Skirpstas said. “Pat is a solid player. He cranked it by me a couple holes, which kind of shocked me because he’s a pip-squeak, but he’s a good guy to play with and it was a fun round. It just lightens the mood because you’re playing with a friend. So when you have a bad hole, it’s easier to recover when you can go slap someone on the butt and say, ‘Hey man, how you doing?’ It makes it easier when you have someone you know.”
The score registered the same, but the two got there in different ways.
For Skirpstas, the day ran like a roller coaster. He finished with four birdies and four bogeys, including a double on the par-3 eighth.
“It was a crazy 73,” Skirpstas said. “I had a lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys. I just hit it all over the place and somehow got it around. You try to minimize your mistakes. Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes, but counteracted it with some birdies. I hit some good shots towards the end. I’ll go hit some balls on the range, get something going and go lights out tomorrow.”
Luth’s round followed a more level route. He finished with one birdie but stayed out of trouble with only two bogeys.
“It’s not what I was expecting coming in,” Luth said. “It was kind of a grind today. I was off a little bit with my approaches and I didn’t make a putt all day. I had three three-putts.
My birdie was a tap-in on a par 5, and I took advantage of that. I couldn’t get anything to go. I wasn’t setting myself up with good opportunities to make birdies, either. I was hitting to the fat part of the green and not getting quite close enough.”
Sitting tied for 61st, both golfers are in position to make sure they return for Thursday’s final round. The projected cut is 60th after tonight.
“I’m not pleased, but I’m not out of it yet,” Skirpstas said. “It gives me something to shoot for (today). I’ll go out and try as hard as I can.”
Skirpstas and Luth take on the South Course today at 8:55 a.m.
“Looking at (today), playing the South Course … a lot of wedges,” Luth said. “There shouldn’t be as much wind as there was (Tuesday) in the afternoon. I like where I’m at. I can go out and post a good number (today) and be right back in the thick of things.”
Andrew Dorn of West Chester hit nine birdies on the North Course to finish with the lead at 64.
Spencer Koch (Montville Township) leads Medina County players, as the Long Beach State (Calif.) sophomore shot a 68 on the South Course.
Following Koch were Westfield Center’s Parker Hewit (T61st, 1 over), Skirpstas, Luth, Montville Township’s Bob Henighan (T61st, 1 over), Brunswick’s Steve Weir (T123rd, 4 over), Montville Township’s Evan Schreck (T123, 4 over), Seville’s Mike King (T123rd, 4 over), Hinckley Township’s Michael Ross (T172nd, 7 over), Montville Township’s Bob Koch (T172nd, 7 over), Hinckley Township’s George Papas (T198th, 9 over), Montville Township’s Joe Kerrigan (T219th, 11 over), Seville’s Greg Briggs (228th, 14 over) and Westfield Center’s Jason Martin (T231st, 20 over).
Medina’s Kyle Richardson was disqualified.