Long, Rich Tradition Continues
Next week marks 112th time CGA Match Play will be contested
by Gary Baines
When it comes to sheer longevity, the CGA Match Play Championship has no peers in Colorado golf.
The tournament made its debut in 1901, when Frank Woodward defeated H.K. B. Davis Sr., 3 and 2 in the championship final. The event actually predates the CGA by 14 years, but the association's first official function when it was founded in 1915 was to take over the administration of the state amateur match play championship.
To put the age of the CGA Match Play into some perspective, none of the other most prominent fixtures on the current Colorado golf schedule debuted until at least 15 years later. Here are some of the other tournaments that were first played pre-1965 and are still around today: CWGA Match Play (1916), CGA Stroke Play (1937), Rocky Mountain Open (1939), boys state high school championship (1947), CWGA Stroke Play (1948), CGA Junior Match Play (1951), CWGA Junior Match Play (1953), Navajo Trail Open (1962) and the Colorado Open (1964).
Even looking nationally, the first CGA Match Play was contested just six years after the inaugural U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur were played.
The 112th edition of the CGA Match Play Championship will take place Monday through next Friday (July 9-13) at The Club at Rolling Hills in Golden. It will be the first time Rolling Hills has hosted the event since 1997.
As you might imagine, the Match Play has a very rich history over the last 11-plus decades. Old-timers still talk about Sam Valuck's victory over Les Fowler at Cherry Hills in the 1961 final, which took 42 holes to settle. And two years ago, veteran PGA/Champions Tour player Mark Wiebe caddied for son Gunner as the younger Wiebe claimed the title. And, of course, there is the stellar list of champions, which includes current PGA/Champions Tour players Hale Irwin (1966 Match Play winner), Steve Jones (1980), Brandt Jobe (1984, '85 and '88) and Kevin Stadler (1999 and 2002). Irwin and Jones won four U.S. Opens between them in the years following their CGA success.
Surprisingly, given the long list of people who have claimed the CGA Match Play title, exactly one former champion will be competing this year. Steve Irwin (pictured at left), whose name joined his dad Hale's on the trophy after Steve's victory in 2004, is among the 96 players entered next week.
Many of the other Match Play champions in the new millennium are now professionals, including Steve Ziegler (pictured at top kissing the Match Play trophy in 2009). Meanwhile, 2011 winner Michael Lee, a Colorado School of Mines golfer, won't defend his title as he's currently working out of state.
Among those joining Steve Irwin in the field are 2011 Match Play runner-up and 2008 CGA Stroke Play champion Jonathan Marsico; Brian Dorfman, who won two Division I college tournaments last season as a senior at Georgetown; 2011 Stroke Play and 2012 CGA Public Links runner-up David Schroeder; and 2012 Public Links co-runner-up and 2011 CGA Junior Stroke champ Steven Kupcho.
The top 64 players in Monday's stroke-play round will advance to match play. The first round of match play is set for Tuesday, with two rounds Wednesday and two Thursday setting up next Friday's 36-hole final.