PIERSON, MOSS AND SCOTT JR. WIN MATCH PLAY TITLES
Whether you are a first timer or a multi-timer winning an event that is regarded as a major will put a smile on your face as wide as the widest fairway.
So it was on Wednesday during the final day of the Denny Shute Memorial Match Play Championships at Portage Country Club in Akron.
Two members of the Northern Ohio Section of the PGA of America emerged to win the first Section title of their careers and another simply added another trophy to his already well-stocked resume.
Held in honor of the native Clevelander who was a match-play wizard, the Denny Shute Memorial Match Play Championship is the final competitive event of the NOPGA season. Fittingly, the season ended in style.
CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION WINNER: Drew Pierson
A blistering start to his final nine holes in the first of a scheduled 36, in which he won four straight to break open what had been a close match, propelled Pierson to a 6-and-5 victory over Adam Lewicki, the Assistant Golf Professional at Portage Country Club.
It was Pierson’s first major win in the Northern Ohio Section and it came after a frustrating 2020 season in which he underwent microdiscetomy surgery on his back.
“I knew I was close,” Pierson said of his return and recent play. “I have been playing well and I just didn’t want to give away any holes, didn’t want to beat myself. That was my game plan and I stuck to it.”
Pierson and Lewicki were all square after the first nine holes but the match took a decisive turn over the first four holes on the back. Two Pierson birdies and a pair of Lewicki miscues zoomed Pierson to a 4-up lead and he never trailed.
Birdie putts of 12 feet on the 11th – the longest par-4 on the course — and 6 feet on the 13th against a pair of Lewicki bogeys gave Pierson a lead he never relinquished.
“I had perfect numbers in and that’s what I wanted to do, give myself a good number,” said Pierson, who had 16 birdies and an eagle during wins over Lewicki, Daniel Terry, 2020 champion Randy Dietz and Nick Gustin “I figured I would need to shoot four or five under to win.”
For Lewicki it was a matter of attrition.
“I just didn’t have much in the tank today,” he said. “The second round really took it out of me.”
Lewicki knocked off three of the Section’s best in 2020 Shute runnerup Joe Meglen and reigning Section Player-of-the-Year Jim Troy on Monday and Mark Sierak on Tuesday to reach the finals.
SENIOR DIVISION WINNER: Rob Moss
In an 18-hole match between two former Shute Champions, Moss made a crucial shot and a clutch putt – both of which led to birdies – to defeat Tom Atchison, 1-up.
It marked the second victory in this event as a Senior for Moss, who defeated NOPGA Hall-of-Famer and host pro Gary Robison at Brookside in 2019 after winning the Championship Division in 2014. Atchison, who plans on retiring as head professional at Salem Golf Club after this season, was the Championship winner in 2002 and is a three-time winner in the Senior Division.
Moss got off to a scorching start with a birdie on the first hole and an eagle on the 525-yard second, nearly holing out from the fairway. Atchison fought back, however and eventually pulled even with a birdies on the 10th and 14th.
Moss retaliated and went 1-up when his second shot from 78 yards and the middle of the fairway on the 314-yard 15th stopped three feet from the hole and he made the putt to Atchison’s par. Both bogeyed the par-3 16th.
Atchison seemed to have an advantage on the 377-yard 17th he chipped to about three feet with his second shot and Moss left his second about 15 feet beyond the pin and faced a tricky right-to-left, downhill putt. As he has so many times over his stellar career, Moss rolled it home, sending the match to the 552-yard 18th, the longest hole at Portage.
“I had a good number for my 58-degree wedge on 15 and the ball reacted nicely when it landed,” said Moss, who defeated Andy Santor, Tony Milam and Tony Adcock in his three previous matches. “Atch hit a great shot into 17. It felt good when I hit the putt. It was a very timely birdie.”
APPRENTICE CHAMPION: Mark Scott Jr.
Scott Jr. and Club Walden Assistant Golf Professional Tyler McHugh were all-square after their first 18 holes but Scott Jr. took charge during a five-hole stretch to close out his front side of the second 18 and went on to a 4-and-3 victory.
It was the first major win for Scott, who is in his first year as Assistant Golf Professional at Canton Brookside after several years at Westfield.
A bogey on the opening hole of the second 18 put Scott Jr. behind but he countered and pulled even with a birdie on the fourth.
Scott Jr. proceeded to win the par-3 fifth with a par to McHugh’s bogey, the sixth with a birdie to McHugh’s par, and the seventh with a par to McHugh’s bogey. That was four straight wins before McHugh rallied briefly with a birdie on the par-3 eighth. It became five wins in six holes when McHugh bogeyed the ninth to fall back to 3-down at the turn.
McHugh bogeyed the 10th but Scott Jr. returned the favor at the 11th. The lead stayed at three and Scott Jr. made a clutch 10-footer to preserve it. He closed it out with another birdie on the 314-yard dogleg right 15th when McHugh’s drive sailed into the fairway of the adjoining third hole, leaving a near-impossible shot over trees.