Month: June 2019

Olson wins 31st IGA Match Play Championship, joins Brown in elite company

Coming into the 31st IGA Match Play Championship at Tournament Club of Iowa Jon Olson (pictured right) had little expectations. After a solid qualifying round and six match victories later, Olson found himself hoisting the trophy after a 1 up victory over Tyler Smith. Olson, who also won this event in 2011, joins Iowa Golf Hall of Fame member Jon Brown as the only other player to win the event more than once.

“I found something this week,” Olson said. “I had no expectations. This week was good.”

Olson, who defeated Ben Epperly (3&2) earlier on Thursday, was impressed with Smith’s game. Smith defeated upstart Dylan Ellis (6&5) in the semifinal round to reach the final match.

“Tyler is a really good player,” Olson said. “I played about as good as I could the last nine holes (in the morning match against Epperly). It’s an exclusive club with Jon Brown, so this means a lot to me.”

To say the final match was back and forth would be an understatement. In the first 12 holes only two were halved, including a total of five holes for the whole 18-hole match. Neither player stretched their lead to more than 2 up at any point.

“I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to that,” Olson admitted regarding the final match status as the round progressed. “It had to be exciting, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention. He got off to a really good start and impressed me. This is a really important win for me.”

Olson, who preaches controlling what you can control, commented that sometimes in match play certain situations can impact a players decision.

“Sometimes you want to hit first out of the fairway, sometimes you don’t,” Olson said. “I only went at #13 once this week, during the qualifying round. I never went after #14. It’s always about focusing on what you can control. I try to control my thoughts and if that’s going well I am happy. This one is for my family and I am really thankful.”

Click here for a full recap of scoring and match results.

Inside the Ropes at the U.S. Senior Open – From a Caddie’s Perspective

Staff Note: Mark Gambaiana, a member of the Iowa Golf Association Foundation Board, will be sending periodic reports this week from his experience as a caddie at the 40th U.S. Senior Open set for June 27-30, at the University of Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course.

Friday, June 28
Iowans Mike McCoy and Jay Gregory battled valiantly but fell just short in a quest to play the weekend at the 40th U.S. Senior Open at the University of Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course Friday. McCoy fired his second consecutive 71 to post a two-over par 142. Exactly 60 players shot 141 or better to make the cut as the USGA trimmed the 156-player field to the low 60 and ties.

McCoy birdied the 404 yard par-4 ninth hole…his 18th of the day but fell short by the narrowest of margins. He was the low amateur for the tournament. McCoy’s round of 71 Thursday was spiced by a hole-out for eagle on the par-4 13th hole. Gregory shot a pair of 72’s to post a 144 and finish in a tie for 81st. He was tied for the second lowest amateur score.

A star-studded leaderboard will produce an exciting weekend finish. Steve Stricker backed up an opening round 62 with a 64 Friday for an unheard of U.S. Open two-day total of 14-under par 126. Right behind are Jerry Kelly, David Toms and Retief Goosen.

A rough start for my player, Roger Rowland of Jacksonville, FL proved too much to overcome as he shot a second day 75 for two-day total of 146. Being inside the ropes was a magnificent experience for yours truly. I’ve followed these players throughout their careers and having a front row seat only deepened my appreciation for their playing ability. There’s such a fine line that separates the pack.


Wednesday, June 26
Final practice preparations are wrapping up as the 40th U.S. Senior Open begins Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday’s practice round provided an wonderful illustration of the melting pot of players assembled to compete for this championship. Our foursome included a pair of golf celebrities and a pair of journeymen who have toiled for years on the mini and satellite tours.

Two-time U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen joined our group and put on an impressive display of shotmaking. Fresh off a playoff loss to Jerry Kelly in last week’s American Family Insurance Championship, Goosen has to be considered one of the favorites this week. His length, accuracy and distance control were spectacular. Another newly minted 50-year old, Gary Nicklaus, showed good form with his 18-year old son, G.T., on the bag. Son of the golf legend, Gary played three years on the PGA Tour and has competed in a handful of 2019 Champions Tour events via sponsor exemptions, including the Principal Charity Classic. Bowling Green, KY resident David Plumb rounded out the group. Like my player, Roger Rowland, David spent a handful of years on the Nike Tour but the majority of his career on mini tours.

I connected with Mike McCoy (pictured right) Wednesday morning as he was warming up on the range. Mike plays at 9:31 a.m. Thursday morning with Tom Werkmeister of Grandville, MI and Kevin King of Bluffton, SC.

I have a new appreciation for the work of caddies. It seems glamorous from the perimeter (and it is) but it’s also hard work and you have to hustle, especially between shots. Thank goodness the Warren Golf Course is relatively flat and not much distance between greens and tees. It’s also great to see how the status of caddies has elevated over the years. There’s an air conditioned tent for caddies, meals and refreshments provided and a wellness center right next door. The caddies of yesteryear didn’t enjoy such creature comforts.


Tuesday, June 25
Activity at the U.S. Senior Open moved into high gear Tuesday as the 156-player field took advantage of beautiful weather for a full day of practice rounds. Players found the 6,943 yard, Par 70 Warren Golf Course a stern test. The layout features small, contoured and well protected greens which should produce an exciting championship. The 450 yard par 4 third hole, the 492 yard par 4 fourth hole and the 239 yard par 3 fifth hole provide an early round challenge.

There are so many distinguishing aspects of this tournament – you can see the game’s legends of yesteryear…Watson, Langer, Jimenez, Singh…hitting balls on the range next to amateurs and journeyman professionals who earned their spot through open qualifying.

Lineville, Iowa’s Jay Gregory (pictured right) had a great thrill today, playing a practice round with Tom Watson and Stephen Ames. A Hamilton, MO native (hometown of JC Penney) Gregory played college golf at William Jewell and is the pride of Lineville, population 217, which sits on the Missouri border.

Watson, still spry at age 69, is joined in the super senior category by veteran Dick Mast, who also belies his age at 68.

Tomorrow I hope to check in with Iowa’s other representative, Mike McCoy.


Monday, June 24
Twenty-eight years ago this summer, I caddied for a budding young golf professional from Florida at the 1991 Ben Hogan Dakota Dunes Open in Sioux City. History will repeat itself this week as I will again caddie for Roger Rowland, this time at the 2019 U.S. Senior Open.

Roger is the ultimate golf journeyman, having persevered on multiple golf tours over three decades as a golf professional to get to this point – qualifying for his first major championship. His career began with moderate success on the Ben Hogan and Nike Tours in the 1990’s, including 117 events played, 61 cuts made, a pair of runner-up finishes and a high finish of 33rd on the money list. Later he played on the Tommy Armour Tour, NGA Hooters Tour, Florida Golf Association Tour and now competes on the Sunbelt Senior Tour, a place where senior professionals keep their games sharp while making the difficult attempt to gain status on the Champions Tour. In all, Roger has won more than 80 mini-tour events.

Last year, Roger made a strong showing at the PGA Champions Tour Qualifying School by finishing in a tie for 13th. Only the top five players earn exempt status however, and the rest are relegated to Monday qualifying where fields of anywhere from 30 to 70 players vie for four spots. He has played the sum total of one Champions Tour event, that being the 2018 SAS Championship where he emerged from the Monday qualifier and finished in a tie for 43rd.

This week, Roger is hoping his determination and persistence will parlay into more status on the Champions Tour. We play at 3:06 p.m. Thursday and 9:31 a.m. Friday.

Iowa Representation
Iowa golf will have a distinct flavor at the U.S. Senior Open as Mike McCoy of Norwalk and Jay Gregory of Lineville are among 20 amateurs in the 156-player field at the U.S. Senior Open. McCoy, a veteran of USGA Championships, punched his ticket into the field by his participation in the 2015 Walker Cup competition while Gregory may have been the last player into the field when he emerged from a playoff for the final spot at the last qualifier held on June 11 at the Golf Club at Creekmoor in Raytown, MO.

McCoy plays at 9:31 a.m. (all times Eastern) on Thursday and 3:06 p.m. Friday while Gregory steps on the tee at 1:11 p.m. Thursday afternoon and 7:46 a.m. Friday morning. All players will play 18 holes of stroke play June 27-28 after which the field will be reduced to the low 60 scores and ties for weekend competition.

Four remain at 31st IGA Match Play Championship

Four remain and are focused on winning two more matches to capture the 31st IGA Match Play Championship tomorrow at Tournament Club of Iowa.

In the Jim English Bracket, #56 seed Dylan Ellis continues to take on all comers, defeating Logan Schweinefus (1 up) and stroke play medalist/#1 seed Tommy Doyle (7&6) to earn his spot into the semifinals. Ellis will meet Tyler Smith, who defeated Kolby Chup (4&3) and Luke Miller (19 holes).

In the Jack Webb Bracket, #7 seed Ben Epperly will face #3 seed Jon Olson on Thursday morning. Epperly defeated J.D. Anderson (1 up) and Willis Gaer (5&4), while Olson dispatched Jesper Holke-Farnam (2 up) and Jake Patterson (4&2) to reach the semifinals. Olson will be looking to add his name to the IGA Match Play Trophy for the second time, winning this event in 2011 over Jon Brown.

“I played well this afternoon,” Olson commented. “I kind of found something.”

Semifinal matches will be played Thursday morning followed by the final match in the afternoon.

Click here to see a recap of scores and match results.

Smith takes rollercoaster ride to 8th IGA Women’s Match Play title

Leanne Smith (pictured right) is the 8th IGA Women’s Match Play Champion – but it wasn’t easy. Smith, from Indianola, jumped out to an early 3 up lead through eight holes against Joy Chou, of Ames. Smith would stretch her lead to 4 up through 10 holes and would even be dormie through 16 holes.

That’s when things go interesting, or maybe to Smith a little unsettling. Chou would win holes 16-18 to square the match and send it to extra holes. Fortunately for Smith her birdie putt on the 19th hole found the bottom of the cup and end the match in her favor.

“I was three up to with three to play and had a little four-footer uphill,” Smith said. “I thought I would just slam it in the right side and it moved a little more than I thought it would, so on to the next (hole). Then I got caught in some rough on #17 and left it short. She’s (Chou) is a great player and she capitalized.”

Smith, who defeated Paige Seiser also in 19 holes to reach the finals, also commented that her early success with the putter in final match was key.

“I felt kind of streaky,” Smith said. “I could really see the line. I was just trying to hang in there and not mistakes.”

Smith, who had to win four matches in two days, thought playing an opening round match was helpful.

“I was really nervous in the first couple matches I played,” Smith admitted. “After I got into the finals I could breathe. I think playing in the first round helps me a lot.”

Click here to see a full recap of scoring and match results.

Moving day the IGA Match Play, IGA Women’s Match Play Championship

Four remain at 8th IGA Women’s Match Play Championship
It was moving day at the 8th IGA Women’s Match Play Championship at Tournament Club of Iowa. Joy Chou (Ames), Karli Kerrigan (Ankeny), Leanne Smith (Indianola) and Paige Seiser (Waukee) are all moving on to the semifinals tomorrow morning.

Chou, who earned medalist honors from stroke play qualifying, was a 4&3 winner over Joran Amelon, of Iowa City. Kerrigan dispatched Des Moines’ Anne Gradoville. Smith knocked off #2 seed Amelia Mehmet-Grohn 5&3 and Seiser won 2 up over Emily Snelling, of Clear Lake.

Click here to see a recap of today’s match results.


Sweet 16 at the 31st IGA Match Play Championship
The field is down to 16 players in the 31st IGA Match Play Championship at Tournament Club of Iowa after a marathon day of play. The Round of 64 and 32 were played on Tuesday under sunny skies for a majority of the day.

#1 seed, following his medalist effort yesterday, Tommy Doyle beat Jason Allen in the opening round 2 up and then defeated Caleb Peters in 19 holes to earn a spot into the Round of 16. Doyle will face Ezra Meyer tomorrow morning. Defending champion Jon Brown, who was the automatic #2 seed, also moved on to Tuesday. Brown defeated Corey Matthew (7&6) and Dusty Stewart (4&3). Brown will face Willis Gaer, of Des Moines, in the next round.

Battle for the top bunk – Kolby Chup defeated college roommate Noah Hartman in the Round of 32 by the margin of 1 up. Chup and Hartman attend Des Moines Area Community College and play golf for DMACC.

“I started off pretty hot,” Chup said. “I birdied three of the first four holes and got up quick. He battled back, so luckily I was able to hit it to a couple feet on #18 and made the putt.”

Click here to see a recap of today’s match results.

Brackets set at 31st IGA Match Play, 8th IGA Women’s IGA Match Play Championship

Seven players post 72 (+1), Brown earns automatic #2 seed
Players found Tournament Club Iowa as a firm test during stroke play qualifying of the 31st IGA Match Play Championship. In a day that saw no one break par, a total of seven players tied for medalist with 72 (+1). Ames’ Tommy Doyle earned the #1 seed via the tiebreaker. Defending champion Jon Brown automatically earned the #2 seed into match play.

Round of 64 matches will begin on Tuesday morning followed by Round of 32 in the afternoon, with the field being cut to 16 players by the end of the day.

Click here to review qualifying scores and view match play brackets.

Chou fires 70 (-1), earns #1 seed into match play
Iowa State University’s Joy Chou earned medalist during stroke play qualifying of the 8th IGA Women’s Match Play. Chou round of 70 (1) included a steady dose of pars (13) . Chou teammate Amelia Mehmet-Grohn posted a 76 (+5) of her own to earn the #2 seed into match play.

Click here to review qualifying scores and view match play brackets.

Huseman wins Fort Dodge Amateur, Bates & Campbell capture titles

In what could very well be his final Fort Dodge Amateur appearance, the 24-year-old Andrew Huseman (above right) left nothing to chance and grinded his way to a resounding five-stroke victory in the open division at the Fort Dodge Country Club’s 71st annual tourney.

Albia’s Joe Bates (above left) and Jim Campbell (above center) went wire-to-wire in the senior and super senior divisions, respectively, to secure titles as well. Bates posted a three-stroke victory over Bret Taylor; Campbell edged Joel Yunek in a playoff.

Motivated to fulfill a promise he made to himself — and his grandpa Dutch — years ago, Huseman closed with a steady two-under par 69 on Sunday. The home stretch of the final round is often tense and unrewarding, as Huseman himself can attest, but the Ankeny Centennial graduate posted plenty of birdies and avoided enough mistakes over the first two-and-a-half days to turn the back nine into a virtual victory lap.

Read more from Fort Dodge Messenger Sport Editor Eric Pratt by clicking here.

Click here for a full recap of scores.

Iowa’s Garside, Bowser grab U.S. Junior spots in Illinois

Bettendorf’s Matthew Garside (above left) and Urbandale’s Jarred Bowser (above right) grabbed two of the three qualifying spots at the U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier held at Urbana Country Club, Urbana, IL on Thursday, June 20.

Garside earned medalist honors with a round of 69 (-3), which included a blistering 31 on the front nine. Bowser earned the third and final qualifying spot with an even par round of 72, which included a trio of birdies.

The U.S. Junior Amateur will be played at Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio, on July 15-20.

Click here to see a recap of all scores

Pittman wins by two at 2019 Iowa Junior Amateur

Nick Pittman (pictured above left), of Urbandale, put up another good score (73) in the final round of the Iowa Junior Amateur at Indianola Country Club to win by a pair of strokes over Clive’s Jake Calhoun, who posted 67 (-4) in the final round to almost catch Pittman, and Matt Gardside, of Bettendorf, who posted 70 in both rounds. Pittman, who opened with 65 (-6) in the opening round said he had a plan of attack before teeing it up at Indianola CC.

“I had a game plan coming into this tournament and I feel like I followed that well both days,” Pittman said. The first day everything was clicking really well. I was hitting the ball really well and my distance control was the best of anything. I gave myself so many birdie looks. Since I had the lead I did, I was able to stick with the plan I had to begin with and keep ahold of the lead.”

Pittman, who admitted he’s played Indianola CC a handful of times, was impressed with the condition of the course.

“I thought the course was in really good shape,” he said “I have played there 6-7 times and this is the best I have seen it.”

In the Boys’ 14-15 year Division Will Simpson (pictured right), of Pella, won by three over Collin Schmit, of Marshalltown, but three strokes. Simpson posted rounds of 74-78 (+10) over the two-day event.

Click here for a full recap of scoring

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