The 2021 IGA Player of the Year, Nate McCoy (right), earned his third win of the season at the 34th IGA Match Play Championship hosted by Talons Golf in Ankeny. McCoy dominated all week from tee to green and etched his name on the match play trophy for the first time in his career.
“This win means almost more now than it did before only because I now realize how hard it is to win one of these,” McCoy said. “This golf course allows guys to make a lot of birdies, but also plays tough in certain spots. You have to beat some really good players.”
As the week began, McCoy earned the No. 11 seed from the stroke play portion of the competition. This put McCoy up against the No. 54 seeded Grant DeKruyf in the first round of the match play tournament, who he defeated 8&6.
Not only did McCoy have to play tough competitors, he also had to play them in many different conditions throughout the week.
“The wind affected things a lot,” McCoy said. “The conditions were tough so you have to take it one shot at a time. Jamie Blackburn reminded me to just stay in the present and take it one shot at a time. It is easy to get ahead of yourself, so just controlling the things I can control was important.”
In his next two rounds, McCoy faced off against the No. 22 seed Scott Hart and the No. 27 seed Ben Pettitt. After three-straight dominant performances, McCoy’s next competitor was the 2020 IGA Match Play Champion and a good friend, Connor Peck.
McCoy started 3 up in his match at one point against Peck, but the 2020 IGA Player of the Year didn’t go down without a fight. Peck brought the match to all square with four to play and made a birdie on the 15th to go 1 up over McCoy.
Down one with three to play, McCoy needed to make something happen. An eagle on the 17th tied the match going into the final hole where McCoy made par and claimed the victory and a spot in the semifinal round.
“It is tough playing against some of your best friends,” shared McCoy. Connor is a great competitor and we had a fun match.”
In the semifinal round, McCoy ran into yet another tough opponent in Ethan Mechling. In the quarterfinal round, Mechling battled and defeated the three-time IGA Match Play Champion, Jon Brown. Mechling was red-hot and ready to take down McCoy.
Mechling went 1 up after the first three holes, but McCoy got the match back to all square. The two competitors were tied heading into the 11th hole where McCoy made a par to win the hole and go 1 up in the match. McCoy kept his foot on the gas pedal and won two of the last five holes to send him to the final round.
After knocking off the No. 1 seeded Dylan Ellis, Willis Gaer and McCoy met in in the championship round, each looking for their first career IGA Match Play title. Gaer was red-hot coming into the final round, but so was McCoy.
“Willis didn’t let up all day,” McCoy said. “I watched wrestling videos to get me pumped up. I knew I was going to have to fight in the final round, so I listened to Tom Brands hype up his team to get me ready to take on Willis. Willis is really sharp right now and he played very well recently at Fort Dodge, so I had to give him my best.”
The competitors continued to trade holes, but McCoy headed for the back nine 2 up in the match. McCoy went 3 up with a birdie on the par-five 11th hole. Gaer started to battle back with wins on 12 and 13 to bring McCoy’s lead back to one.
That one-hole lead was the deciding factor of the match. McCoy and Gaer matched each other the rest of the way. With a two-putt par on the 18th hole, McCoy joined many great Iowan’s who have won the IGA Match Play Championship.
Anna Jensen (right) captured the 11th IGA Women’s Match Play Championship and completed her long-awaited revenge tour at Talons Golf in Ankeny. Ever since 2021, when Jensen fell to Leanne Smith in the final round, she has been waiting for a chance at redemption.
“Last year gave me a glimpse of what it would be like because the competition is really high,” Jensen said. “I had in the back of my mind that I can do this, because I made it to the championship round last year. It gave me extra motivation because I was that close and so I wanted to try to do it again.”
That she did.
Jensen began her championship run by earning the No. 2 seed in the stroke play portion of the tournament. At the start of match play, Jensen grabbed wins over Carroll Dethrow and Kathy Fortune.
Following her first two matches, Jensen was paired against the 2021 IGA Junior Girl’s Amateur Champion, Tatum Depuydt. The match went back and forth and ended with Jensen winning 3&2. Up next was Fiona Watson.
Watson was at the top of her game this week with wins over Jeanne Swenson and Tabitha Schumacher. In the quarterfinal round, Watson defeated the No. 3 seed Christi Imsland 4&3 and went on to face Jensen in the semifinal round.
Jensen got off to a quick start, winning two of the first three holes. Watson fought back by winning the fourth and fifth hole. At the turn, the match was all square, but Watson took three of the next four holes and went 3 up going into the 14th hole.
The match seemed to be over until Jensen played 14, 15 and 16 at even par and tied the match. Jensen and Watson tied on 17 and 18 to send the match to Talon’s one of a kind 19th hole. Jensen stuck one to five feet and drained the birdie putt to put her up against Paige Hoffman in the final round.
There were a total of 11 lead changes in their match. Neither Jensen or Hoffman were up more than one hole during the match. After four holes, the match was tied. Jensen won two holes and Hoffman fired back and won two holes.
On the par three eighth hole, Hoffman stuck one to three feet to take the lead going into the turn. Jensen tied the match on the 11th hole with and then took the lead on the 13th. Hoffman was now down one shot, but grabbed the lead after winning the next two holes.
Going into hole 16, Jensen was down one, but made a par to tie the match. Both competitors birdied the par-five 17th hole and the match was tied going into 18. Jensen won the match with a two-putt par and brought the match play trophy home.
Jensen continued to praise her two opponents after two close matches.
“Fiona was very consistent,” Jensen said. “She hits it on the fairways and greens and she was just a difficult competitor to beat. Today was really fun to play with Paige because we have been playing together since we were 12 years old.”
Now the holder of the 2022 IGA Women’s Match Play Champion title, Jensen will write her name in the IGA Women’s Match Play history book.
The 2022 season continues as the women take on the IGA Women’s Mid-Am Series Event #2 at Honey Creek Golf Course in Boone on July 16th. You can follow the players using our live scoring feature.