The playing of the 100th Ohio Open and a new event specifically for women highlight the 2021 schedule of the Northern Ohio Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America.
The NOPGA’s 75th season includes more than 30 local events – including those deemed as “majors” — and will begin on April 19 and conclude October 19.
The Ohio Open will have a new but familiar home when it returns to renovated Westfield Country Club June 29-July 1. It marks the Open’s return to Westfield’s 36-hole layout for the first time since 2016.
Won by such notables as Jack Nicklaus (1956 as an amateur), Byron Nelson (1940-42), Tom Weiskopf (1965) and Herman Keiser (1949), the Open is the eminent event of the year and is one of six regarded as the NOPGA’s “major” events. The Open, contested over 54 holes, is acknowledged as the state championship.
The other majors include the Ohio Senior Open, the NOPGA Professional Championship, the NOPGA Senior Professional Championship, the Mitchell-Haskell Tour Championship and the Denny Shute Memorial Championship.
The Denny Shute Memorial is named after the Clevelander who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame after twice winning the PGA Championship, the British Open and 15 other PGA Tour events during a long and distinguished career.
Below are the significant events on the NOPGA schedule as well as a schedule of the NOPGA Junior Tour, and a brief description of each:
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS ON THE 2021 NOPGA SCHEDULE
36th OHIO SENIOR OPEN
When: June 2-3
Where: Firestone Country Club, Fazio Course (Akron)
Reigning champion: Bob Sowards (Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club, Dublin) 68-68-136 (-4). Super Seniors: Mike Cassell (Hudson) 70-70-140.
Runner-up: Howard Clendenin (Firestone CC, Seville) 68-72-140 (E). Super Seniors: Walt Robertson (Cleveland) 72-72-144.
Sponsor: Michelob Ultra.
Looking back: Amateurs were prevalent in both the Senior and Super Senior fields of nearly 100 for the 35th event sponsored by Michelob Ultra. While Bob Sowards solidified his status as the state’s top senior by winning his second straight Senior Open championship, amateur Howard Clendenin was the runner-up and amateurs Mike Cassell and Monty Guest dominated the Super Seniors competition. Sowards, 52, was the only player in the field to shoot two sub-par rounds with a pair of 68s and won by four shots over Clendenin, a Firestone member. Sowards became the sixth player to win multiple Senior titles to go with his three Ohio Open titles won in 2002, 2004 and 2010. Cassell (Hudson) and Guest (Solon) prevailed in the Super Seniors with Cassell posting rounds of 67-68-135 (5-under) for a 4-shot victory. His 36-hole score was the lowest by anyone in either division. Former Canton Brookside Director of Golf Gary Robison owns the most Senior Open titles, winning in 2004, 2010, 2015 and 2018.
JUNIOR PGA SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP
When: June 7-8
Where: Portage Country Club (Akron)
Reigning champions: Topher Reed (Fairview Park) 67-68-135 (-5) and Kyleigh Dull (Fremont) 71-71-142 (E).
Runners-up: Kyle Freudeman (Canton) 71-67-138 (-2) and Cara Heisterkamp (Westlake) 69-74-143 (+1)
Looking back: Ohio State commit Topher Reed shot two rounds in the 60s and Kyleigh Dull, a two-time Ohio high school state champion headed to Eastern Michigan, shot even par over two rounds to win their respective divisions at Portage. The event is open for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18. Reed, who will graduate from St. Ignatius in 2022, was the lone player in the field of more than 100 to post back-to-back rounds under 70. Dull, who will graduate from Kansas Lakota High this summer, won Division II state titles in 2018-19 and was third in 2020. Her consistency at Portage enabled her to rally from a 2-stroke deficit after the first 18 holes.
100TH OHIO OPEN
When: June 29-July 1
Where: Westfield Group CC, North & South Courses (Westfield Center)
Reigning champion: Alex Weiss (Pickerington) 64-70-69-203 (-13)
Runners-up: Bob Sowards (Kinsale, Dublin) 68-65-71-204; Ryan Yip (Kent State Univ., Kent) 66-68-70-204 (-12)
Title Sponsor: Pyramid Treating
Presenting Sponsors: Meritech, Inc.; Jack Trier and Family – M&S Hunting
Looking back: The NOPGA and Ohio Open bid farewell to Weymouth and Fox Meadow Country Clubs as Pickerington’s Alex Weiss outlasted veteran Bob Sowards and Kent State University assistant coach Ryan Yip, each of whom finished one stroke back. Weiss, who lost to Stephen Gangluff as part of a three-man playoff for the title in 2019, got off to a rousing start with his opening 64 at Fox Meadow. After falling behind by two shots through 14 holes on the final day, Weiss rallied over the final three by taking advantage of rare miscues by Sowards. Weiss, 24, strung together three straight pars while Sowards went an uncharacteristic bogey-bogey-bogey, including a 3-putt on the 18th hole.
KENNY NOVAK JUNIOR TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
When: July 27-28
Where: Club Walden (Aurora)
Reigning champions: Justin Atkinson (Brookfield) 72-73-145 (+1); Sachin Singh (Shaker Heights) 34-39-73 (+1); Lauren Bangasser (Concord Township) 37-43-80 (+8); Madison Reemsnyder (Canton) 72-71-143 (-1).
Runners-up: Jake Sylak (Mineral Ridge) 71-75-146 (+2); Julian Dugan (Rocky River) 37-36-73 (+1); Halle Ellis (Uniontown) 41-40-80 (+9); Mary Kelly Mulcahy (Lima) 78-76-154 (+10).
Looking back: Canton’s Madison Reemsnyder was the story of the day as the junior at GlenOak High routed the girls 16-19 field by a whopping 11 shots – believed to be the widest margin of victory in the event’s history. Justin Atkinson shared second-round medalist honors with a 1-over 73 to erase a one-shot deficit to win the boys 16-19 age group and Sachin Singh rode a front-nine 2-under 34 to tie share medalist honors and win in a one-hole playoff in the boys 11-15 group. A front-nine 37 spurred Concord’s Lauren Bangasser to a one-shot victory in the girls 11-15 group.
NORTHERN OHIO PGA JR. LEAGUE SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP
When: August 14-15
Where: Eagle Creek Golf Club (Norwalk)
Reigning champion: Mallard Creek Golf Club
Runner-up: Cleveland Southeast
Sponsor: National Car Rental
Looking back: The event for players 14-and-under was canceled due to the Covid virus in 2020 but is scheduled to return in 2021. In 2019 Mallard Creek, captained by Jim Wise and coached by Chris Reed, continued its winning ways. It captured its fifth championship with a 9.5 to 2.5 win in the match-play finals. The winner of the event qualifies for the sub-regional in September.
NOPGA SENIOR PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
When: August 18-19
Where: Lakewood Country Club (Westlake)
Reigning champion: Gary Robison (Brookside Country Club, Canton) 74-68-142 (E)
Runner-up: Dan Sutton (Heather Downs, Toledo) 73-74-147 (+5)
Looking back: Course familiarity is always nice as Brookside Director of Golf Gary Robison proved in his sixth victory in this event that will move to Lakewood Country Club in 2021. Robison, who would go on to win the NOPGA Senior Player-of-the-Year Award, shot a final-round 3-under 68 while most of the field struggled. Robison, 66, was the only player to break par in the final round and that led to a 5-stroke victory. Runner-up Dan Sutton, defending champion Steve Stone, and teaching pro Tony Adcock joined Robison in qualifying for the 2020 Senior PGA National Pro Championship in Port St Lucie, Fla.
NOPGA LADIES PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
When: August 18-19
Where: Lakewood Country Club (Westlake)
Reigning champion: New Event
Notable: This will be a 36-hole stroke play event open to all NOPGA members and associates.
NOPGA PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
When: August 23-25
Where: Beechmont Country Club (Beachwood)
Reigning champion: Jaysen Hansen (Beechmont Country Club, Solon) 70-74-68-212 (-4)
Runner-up: Jim Troy (Honma Golf USA, Strongsville) 72-69-72-213; Mark Sierak (Barrington Golf Club, Aurora) 69-70-74-213; Randy Dietz (Windmill Golf Center, Macedonia) 69-71-73-213.
Presenting Sponsors: Cadillac, Club Car, Rolex
Supporting Sponsors: Titleist, FootJoy, Nike, TaylorMade, Golf Channel, PGA Tour
Looking back: Jaysen Hansen shot a final-round 4-under 68 – the lowest round of the tournament – to finish with a 54-hole total of 4-under 212 for a one-stroke victory over three others. Hansen, in his seventh year at Beechmont, began the day five shots behind the leader but three birdies on the front nine and two more on the back enabled him to move to the top of the leaderboard and claim the first-place check.
NOPGA ASSISTANTS CHAMPIONSHIP
When: September 7
Where: Weymouth Country Club (Medina)
Reigning champion: Tyler McHugh (Fox Den GC, Aurora) 66-69—135 (-9)
Runners-up: Jake Scott (Elyria CC, Strongsville) 66-71—137; Mike Balcar (Brandywine CC, Toledo) 72-65-137 (-7)
Title Sponsor: National Car Rental
Supporting Sponsors: Srixon, Cleveland Golf, XXIO, Asics, John Deere
Looking back: Tyler McHugh broke a tie for the lead with a second-round 3-under 69 at Club Walden to win the championship for the first time. He was the only one in the field of 40 to post two rounds in the 60s to win by two shots. Over 36 holes McHugh, 26, had one eagle, nine birdies, 25 pars and one double bogey. McHugh and runner-up Jake Scott qualified for the 44th national event in Palm Beach Gardens in November. The event will move to Weymouth Country Club in 2021.
When: September 13-14
Where: Highland Meadows Country Club (Sylvania)
Reigning champions: Regular Division: Ian Martin (Saline, Mich.) 67-69—136; Senior Division: Steve Stone (Perrysburg) 72-73-145
Runners-up: Regular Division: Josh Gulkison (Springboro) 66-71-137; Senior Division: Dan Olsen (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Title Sponsor: Habitec Security
Presenting Sponsors: Club Car, Century Equipment
Looking back: At Belmont Country Club, New Philadelphia’s Blake Sattler finished third with rounds of 67-71-138 and Kent State assistant coach Ryan Yip tied for fourth at 69-70-139 in the Regular Division and Silver Lake’s Tom Atchison (Salem Golf Club) finished third in the Senior group with rounds of 74-72-146.
MITCHELL-HASKELL TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
When: September 20-21
Where: The Country Club (Pepper Pike)
Reigning champions: Jim Troy (Honma Golf USA, Strongsville) 68-75-143 (-1); Senior Division: Gary Rusnak (70-75-145) (+1).
Runners-up: Tyler McHugh (Fox Den, Aurora) 77-70;147; Jake Scott (Elyria CC, Strongsville) 73-74-147; Senior Division: Steve Parker (Portage CC) 73-76-149.
Title Sponsor: Club Car
Presenting Sponsor: Pepsi
Looking back: The best rounds of the tournament eventually led to 4-shot victories for Troy in the Regular Division and Rusnak in the Senior Division. Troy, of Strongsville, was the lone player in the field of 36 to shoot in the 60s with an opening 4-under 68. Rusnak, of Painesville, had the only sub-par round in the field of 16 Seniors with an opening 2-under 70.
25TH OHIO CUP MATCHES
When: October 4-6
Where: Pinnacle Golf Club (Grove City)
Reigning champion: Northern Ohio PGA
Sponsor: Lavery Auto Family
Looking back: A dominant second day on the South Course of Firestone Country Club, in which it won nine of 16 singles matches, rallied the NOPGA to its fourth straight victory in the series and improved its overall mark to 16-8. Seniors Rob Moss (Pepper Pike, Tony Adcock (Seven Hills) and Gary Robison (Canton Brookside) went a combined 8-0-1 and Mark Sierak (Barrington) joined Moss and Adcock in earning three points. The NOPGA trailed by three points after the opening day Four-Ball matches but went 13-5-6 over the final 24 matches in singles and Foursomes. The Southern Ohio PGA will host in 2021.
DENNY SHUTE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
When: October 11-13
Where: Portage Country Club (Akron)
Reigning champions: Randy Dietz (Windmill Golf Center, Macedonia); Senior Division: Gary Robison (Brookside Country Club, Canton); Associate Division: John Powers (Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green).
Runners-up: Joe Meglen (GolfTec-Stonebrook, Mentor); Senior Division: Tony Adcock (Seven Hills, Canton); Associate Division: Kyle Kellogg (Mt. Vernon Country Club, Upper Arlington).
Sponsor: House of LaRose
Looking back: In the final event of the season, Randy Dietz defeated Joe Meglen, 4-and-2 in the Regular Division, Robison defeated Adcock, 5-and-4 in the Senior Division and Powers won the Associate Division with a 1-up win over Kellogg. The Regular and Associate divisions played a 36-hole finale while the Seniors played 18. Conditions were tough as the course was wet and the temperatures bounced up and down all day. Dietz closed out his match with consecutive birdies on the 33rd and 34th holes. Robison, who announced his retirement from Brookside after 14-years and a 41-year career in the NOPGA, went out a winner by making birdie putts of 10, 15, 2 and 30 feet on the front side. Powers, the head coach at BGSU, had a 3-hole lead after the first 18 and eventually closed out the back-and-forth match with five straight pars in the second session.