It was a biting cold, the kind of cold that creeps into your bones and won’t let go.
It was a piercing wind, a wind that felt as if it could tear a hole in your face with each gust.
It was a day for layers of clothes, facemasks, stocking caps, handwarmers, gloves and maybe two pair of pants. And it sure didn’t hurt to have a cart cover and an in-cart heater made especially for days like Thursday when temperatures ranged from low 30s to low 40s.
Yet, the final day of the Denny Shute Memorial Match Play Championships at Portage Country Club – four matches involving six members of the Northern Ohio Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America — was a good one.
It was a good one because of the golf and the men playing it.
They did not complain about the severe and unrelenting weather conditions that could have easily served as a built-in excuse for an uncharacteristically errant shot. If anything, they laughed at the circumstance and shrugged it off to the risks of playing golf in Northeastern Ohio in late October. A factor? Yes. A detriment? No. The conditions were the same for everyone.
“My bones are too old for this,” joked PGA Life Member Tom Atchison, a four-time winner of this event and a semifinalist in the Senior Division this year.
The NOPGA crowned two champions on Thursday in the final competitive event of the season. Youngstown Country Club PGA Assistant Golf Professional Jon Jones won the Senior Division championship for the second time – and his fourth overall — and Pepper Pike Club Assistant Golf Professional DJ Holub won his first Associate Division title. They joined Canton Brookside PGA Assistant Golf Professional Mark Scott Jr., who claimed his first Regular Division title on Wednesday when the weather was even more horrific.
That the weather Thursday was less severe than the day before did not make it an easy day.
“It was brutal, it was challenging,” said Jones, who defeated Pepper Pike PGA Head Professional and three-time winner Rob Moss, 2-and-1, in the finals after eliminating long-time friend and frequent playing partner Tony Adcock, of Seven Hills, 1-up in the semifinals. “Fortunately, we don’t have to walk.
Holub, 30, and Canterbury Golf Club Director of Instruction Patrick Milkovich, went 35 back-and-forth holes before Holub emerged with a 2-and-1 win.
“For sure, absolutely,” Holub said afterward when asked if the weather was a factor. “When you get these greens rolling that fast and you can’t really feel your fingers that well, you hit some putts where you just scratch your head an ask, ‘Where did that come from?’”
Moss, seeking a second straight and third overall Senior title, eliminated PGA Life Member Tom Atchison, 3-and-2, in the morning semifinals.
Jones, 55, won two of the first three holes and was 3-up after seven. Moss won the 366-yard ninth hole with a par when Jones was stuck behind a tree in the left rough off the tee and made bogey.
The lead shrunk to one when Jones bogeyed the 10th but Moss was never able to get level with some gut-wrenching misses over the final seven holes.
Jones, who has been in the finals of this event six times, flirted with disaster when his drive on the dogleg right 14th hole ended up in the trees and leaves on the left, resulting in a lost ball and a bogey that enabled Moss to pull to within one-down for the second time on the closing nine.
“I think I have bogeyed that hole every time I’ve played it,” said Jones. “I’ve played it with four different clubs and this time I hit driver and hit it in the hazard. It’s a great golf hole but it drove me crazy all week.”
Moss birdied the hole when his drive made it safely through the trees on the right and his second shot teased the hole before stopping six inches away.
Jones, who has had a fine season with eight top-10 finishes, was 1-up with three holes to play when the twosome reached the 232-yard 16th. Moss left his tee shot just on the front fringe, but about 65 feet from the hole while Jones was 20 feet below the hole.
Moss’s putt nearly went in, rimming the hole but skidding about three feet past. Jones went 2-up by dropping the 20-footer.
“That was one of the best putts I hit all week,” said Jones.
Moss had another chance on the 377-yard 17th but his birdie attempt from about 12 feet once again slipped by the hole. Jones, who left his second shot just off the green to the right of the pin, hit a marvelous chip to three feet and made the putt to end the match.
Holub had a one-hole lead when he stepped on the tee of the 163-yard 12th. He nearly canned it off the tee with his ball stopping 10 inches from the hole, giving him a birdie.
“I had been kind of fighting myself all day but I changed my swing thought and made a good swing,” he said. “That’s when I thought I had it.”
The win was Holub’s second of the season but the biggest of his Section tenure.
“This is my first year as a Section member and now I have won twice,” he said. “It’s good to be around all these guys. Winning makes you feel more like you belong.”
FINAL RESULTS: Northern Ohio PGA
2022 Denny Shute Match Play Championship
Portage Country Club, Akron, Ohio
Mon, Oct 17 – Thu, Oct 20, 2022
SENIOR DIVISION SEMIFINALS (18 holes):
Rob Moss (Pepper Pike) def. Tom Atchison (PGA Life Member), 3-and-2;
Jon Jones (Youngstown CC) def. Tony Adcock (Seven Hills CC), 1-up.
SENIOR DIVISION FINALS (18 holes):
Jones def. Moss, 2-and-1.
ASSOCIATE DIVISION FINALS (36 holes:
DJ Holub (Pepper Pike) def. Patrick Milkovich (Canterbury CC), 2-and-1.