The WPGA Match Play Championship came to a close this past weekend with the championship match. 2018 marked first time the event featured a season long format. Back in mid-May a field of WPGA professionals ventured to the Links Course at The GC’s of Lawsonia for the qualifying round and first three rounds of match play. At the conclusion of the two days the field was whittled down to the final eight. The final three rounds of play would then take place over the course of the next three and half months. Players were given approximately five weeks to finish off each round and had the ability to mutually determine the site and date.
Navigating their way to the finals was the familiar duo of David Roesch and Jim Schuman. The matchup was fitting as the dynamic duo had shared the WPGA Match Play champion spotlight for the past seven years. Schuman staked claim to the title in 2011’, 12’, 16 and 17’ and Roesch took home three in a row from 13’ to 15’.
So the stage was set for what would be a great final match. With convenience of location in mind the twosome selected Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield as their host site.
From the start the battle showed why the two players were some of steadiest in the state. The first six holes left the match even as each player played them at even par. Momentum would then swing in Roesch’s direction as a bogey on no. 7 by Schuman and a birdie on no. 8 by Roesch would give the 2004 State Open Champion a sudden two-up lead.
“Jim struck the ball beautifully, I think he might have missed two greens all day,” Roesch said. “And on those two greens I think he just misclubed.”
The duo would then match pars on the par 5, 9th hole and send the match to the back nine with the same two-up lead for Roesch.
“I felt a little momentum going,” Roesch said. “We then get to ten and I’m the first to play and I hit it to a foot, then he hits it to three feet and we both birdied.”
The impressive play would continue into the back nine but neither player was able to card a birdie to swing more momentum into their favor. Over the course of the next four holes the two players would match pars on holes 11 through 14.
With the number of holes dwindling and the deficit still at two holes, Schuman would get one back on the par 5, 15th. He was able to hit the 519 yard par 5 in two and two putt for his third birdie of the day. With Roesch unable to match the lead was now down to one.
However the quick swing was halted as Roesch matched Schuman with pars on the next two holes. With only one hole to go Schuman knew it was most likely going to take a birdie to force extra holes. From around 150 yards out the two-time defending champion hit a great shot.
“He hit a really good shot, another good strike of the ball, looked no more than ten feet.” Roesch said. “Odds are he’s due to make it and we are going to go to extra holes.”
From 142 yards Roesch would then pull off his own good shot. He knocked his nine-iron to about 12 feet and rolled in the birdie putt to claim his fourth WPGA Match Play title.
For Schuman the day just wasn’t meant to be as his consistent looks for birdie from 15 to 20 feet would just not fall. By dodging those chances and scrambling his way around the course Roesch was able to card a bogey free round and keep the momentum going.
“My short game really saved me where some of the momentum could have changed,” Roesch said. “I just feel lucky. You don’t get many chances to win the majors. If you can win a few here and there it feels really good.”
The win now sets up a showdown for next week’s WPGA Professional Championship, as Roesch closed the gap on Schuman to under 100 points in the race for 2018 WPGA Player of the Year.
The WPGA would like to thank our event partners Harris Golf Cars, Cutter & Buck, Yamaha Golf & Utility and the PGA Tour for helping make the event possible with their generous support. With their help the members only championship once again featured a great purse, a nice welcome gift for all the attendees and a terrific venue for the first WPGA major of the season.