AKRON: It was cold enough to make stocking caps the fashion of the day, the fairways were beyond wet and a recent aeration left the greens with a texture resembling a miniature speed bump.
All that was missing during Tuesday’s playing of the Denny Shute Memorial Match Play Championship was a stiff, swirling wind.
Remarkably, members of the Northern Ohio Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America outlasted a two-hour delay and played some superb and exciting golf during a long day at Portage Country Club.
Of the 21 matches that were held in the three divisions, 10 went to the final hole or beyond.
Seniors Mitch Camp (Club Walden) and top-seeded Rob Moss (Pepper Pike) made one bogey between them during their quarterfinal match that went to two-time Shute champion Camp, 2-up. The bogey belonged to Moss, on the second hole.
“How can you beat a guy that doesn’t make a bogey?” Moss wondered aloud of two-time champion and eighth-seeded Camp, who defeated Jon Jones (Youngstown CC), 3-1, in the morning before denying Moss his second Shute title in the last seven years. “He didn’t make a bogey. He played great.”
The same for fellow Seniors, host professional Steve Parker and three-time champion and second-seeded Gary Robison (Brookside Country Club) in a match that went 19 holes and was won by Robison when he birdied the 18th and 19th holes with massive putts that totaled a combined 65 feet. The two were tied most of the day and neither had more than a one-hole advantage.
“I got lucky and made those two long ones there,” said the always humble Robison, who defeated Shady Hollow’s Gregg Matthus in a Stark County showdown in the morning and will meet Salem Country Club’s Tom Atchison in the other semifinal. “Steve played great. We both played well under tough conditions. It was one of those matches where it was a shame if either of us lost.”
Camp will play Tony Adcock (Seven Hills) in one of Wednesday’s semifinals after the fourth-seeded Adcock eliminated Lakewood Country Club’s Tom Waitrovich, 6&5 in the afternoon and Scott Pollock, of 1899 Golf-East Cleveland in the morning, 1-up.
The tournament start was delayed by two hours in order to give the course some time to dry out.
Tom Atchison, the 2002 winner, made about 10-foot putt on the final hole to edge Gary Rusnak in the quarterfinals after an earlier 4-and-3 victory over Dan Sutton, of Heather Downs.
Not all the notable play was confined to the Seniors.
Windmill Golf Center Teaching Professional Randy Dietz can become the event’s first repeat winner in the Regular Division since Mayfield Country Club’s Mark Evans in 2017.
Dietz, the top-seeded player in the Regular Division, had his toughest match in his opener, besting Shaker Heights Country Club’s Jordan Paolini, 1-up, on Monday. On Tuesday he used identical 3-and-2 wins over Nick Paez (GolfTec-Cleveland West) and Portage assistant Adam Lewicki to reach the finals.
“Randy is just playing so well right now,” said Lewicki, who also has had a productive summer. “He can putt with the best of them. He can really roll it.”
Dietz will play GolfTec Teaching Professional Joe Meglen, who arguably had the two most impressive wins of the day, in a 36-hole finale.
The sixth seed, Meglen eliminated two-time winner and third-seeded Beechmont Head Golf Professional Jaysen Hansen in 19 holes and followed with a 1-up victory over 2018 champion Jim Troy, of Honma Golf USA.
The seven-player Associate Division 36-hole final has Mt. Vernon Country Club’s Kyle Kellogg meeting Bowling Green State University Head Golf Golf Coach Who reached the finals by beating Pepper Pike Club Assistant Golf Professional Sean McGuire, 4-and-2.
The Regular Division final is set to go off at 9 a.m. with the Senior semifinals beginning at 9:16 and 9:24.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.