Another year, another great collection of Wisconsin PGA Match Play champions. Throughout 2019 the Wisconsin PGA members and associates battled it out to stake claim to one of four WPGA Match Play crowns. From late April until early October a total 148 matches were needed in order complete all the contests. As we close out the year we take a look back at the winners and how they claimed one of these coveted titles.
A big thank you goes out to all the event partners that supported these championships.
Craig Czerniejewski & Mick Smith – Four-Ball
Kurt Mantyla – Member
Dan Hastreiter – Assistant
Jim Schuman – Senior
This year’s Four-Ball Match Play champions started off with a bang and never looked back on the way to their victory. The Washington County GC duo of Craig Czerniejewski and Mick Smith set the stage by grabbing the no. 1 seed by carding a 9-under-63 at the Spring Pro-Pro Better Ball in mid-April. From there the twosome dissected their way through the 32 team bracket. Included in that run were three close calls in the 2nd round (1up), quarterfinals (19 holes) and semifinals (2&1). The close victories setup a showdown in the championship with the 2018 winners, Jim Schuman and Joe Stadler. In late September the foursome would venture to Ozaukee CC for the match. The firepower of Czerniejewski and Smith would be the story of the day, as they combined to birdie eight of the fifteen holes they played. At the turn the duo was only 1up, but they then rattled off four birdies in the final six holes to claim a 4&3 win. The win marks the second time Czerniejewski has claimed the title as he also did so in 2014 with Mike Johnston.
For the second straight season the WPGA Match Play Championship featured a season long format. Back in mid-May a field of WPGA professionals battled the classic layout of West Bend CC for the qualifying round and first three rounds of match play. The final three rounds of play would then take place over the course of the next two and half months. In the end it would be Kurt Mantyla of Naga-Waukee GC grabbing the win. For Mantyla the journey to the title featured impressive wins over former champions Ryan Helminen (quarterfinals) and David Roesch (semifinals). Finally his putter would lead the way as he defeated Mick Smith for the title on a early August morning. After building up a solid 3up lead on the front nine, the champion held off Smith as he made a charge on the final nine holes. In the end he would earn a hard fought 1up win. When asked to reflect on the win Manyla has this to say, “Biggest win, sort of shocked,” he said. “Having to play such great players, you know I kind of squeaked out all of them in the end. I made a lot of putts I had to make. In match play that’s what it comes down to a lot.”
For the fourth straight year the the Assistants Match Play would feature a first time winner. Running the gauntlet and earning the win was Dan Hastreiter of Whistling Straits. His route to the title was very difficult as his biggest margin of victory was in the first round, 3 &2 over Evan Rabas. After that point it was the story of survival as he won matches 2&1 (round of 16 def. Joe Wood), 20 holes (quarters def. Kraig Joy) and 20 holes (semis def. Tyler Siech). Finally he would take on Tom Burton at Washington County GC in late September for the title. Once again the Florida State University graduate would find himself in a battle until the end. He would build a 4up lead over the course of the first thirteen holes, after playing them 3-under-par. Down the stretch though a few costly missteps and a birdie by Burton would get the lead down to one with one to play. The margin proved to be just enough as the duo matched pars on no. 18 and with it came a 1up win for Hastreiter. For Hastreiter the win provided some sweet satisfaction after he came oh so close as the runner-up in the WPGA Member Match Play in 2017.
Last but not least a familiar face took ownership once again of the WPGA Senior Match Play title. For the second straight year Jim Schuman of Blue Mound G&CC earned the champion’s trophy. The Madison native played some more impressive golf as he carded wins over Joe Stadler (4&3), Scott Kennedy (5&4) and Eddie Terasa (2&1) on the way to the finals. A match with Charlie Brown would be the last obstacle for Schuman. The two agreed to play the match at Geneva National Golf Club’s Trevino Course. The home course for Brown would seemingly give the advantage to him, however Schuman did finish in 3rd place on the course at the Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open in August. The good vibes for Schuman would carry over into the match. After a routine par on no. 1 Schuman would go on a run of seven straight birdies to go 7up. With one more on on the Par 5-10th the match was much sealed. The final tally would be an 8&7 win. The victory gave Schuman a sweep of all the three WPGA major senior championships for a second straight year.