The biennial Peters Cup, which matches the top players of the Georgia PGA and GSGA, consists of 32 matches. After 31 matches of the most recent competition at the Legends at Chateau Elan, the score was tied 15 ½ to 15 ½.
All the singles matches were complete except one, a battle between the most prominent players from each organization. David Noll of Dalton has won the GSGA’s three most significant events a total of nine times, and was playing Tim Weinhart, a 9-time Georgia PGA Player of the Year.
After the team teams split the only two other closely contested matches among the last eight on the singles schedule, it came down to Noll vs. Weinhart in a rematch of past Peters Cup showdowns. Noll took a 2-up lead when Weinhart said he “butchered” the par-3 12th and took double bogey.
At that point, Weinhart says his thought process was, “I needed to birdie every hole to the house. I was trying to pretend that no one was here, like I was playing by myself and wanted to make lots of birdies.”
Weinhart was far from alone on the closing holes of his match, as almost all the players from both teams took their carts back out on the course to follow the decisive match.
Five holes and four birdies later, Weinhart scored a 2&1 win over Noll to give the Georgia PGA its fourth straight win in the matches by a 16 ½ to 15 ½ score. The GSGA recorded four consecutive victories prior to the more recent win streak of the Georgia PGA.
Like the 2014 Peters Cup, which was played at Champions Retreat outside Augusta, the most recent competition (Oct. 16-17) was close all the way. The teams split the four best-ball matches the first morning of competition, with the GSGA going 4-3-1 in alternate shot that afternoon to take an 8 ½ to 7 ½ lead.
The Georgia PGA got off to a strong start in singles, winning six of the first eight, but the GSGA won matches 9 through 13, four of them decisively. The Georgia PGA pulled even on wins by Sonny Skinner and Brian Dixon, leaving it up to Weinhart, who won the last two Georgia PGA non-senior events of 2016 to lock up his ninth Player of the Year title,
Weinhart began his comeback by hitting his approach within three feet for birdie at the par-4 13th, and rolled in a birdie putt of some 20 feet at the par-5 14th to square the match, with Noll missing from about half that length.
After the par-3 15th was halved with pars, Weinhart drove into a greenside bunker on the short par-4 16th and was conceded his birdie putt of about six feet after Noll made bogey following an errant tee shot. Weinhart locked up his victory with another birdie putt in the 20-foot range at the 17th for his fourth birdie in five holes and a clinching 2&1 victory.
As his match progressed, Weinhart was able to keep up with how the other matches were progressing through live scoring updates from Golf GameBook, and knew it was going to come down to his match against Noll. He responded with a clutch effort down the stretch as the Georgia PGA extended its winning streak thanks to strong efforts from a number of players other than Weinhart.
Four members of the Georgia PGA team posted perfect 3-0 records in the matches, with Weinhart and Dixon, his partner in team competition, both going 2-0-1.
The Georgia PGA duos of Kyle Owen-Todd Ormsby and Craig Stevens-Stephen Keppler both swept their team matches and went a combined 4-0 in singles. Weinhart and Dixon went 1-0-1 in their team matches and both won in singles, with Dixon tying the matches at 15 ½ to 15 ½ prior to Weinhart’s decisive victory.
Dixon led Mark Strickland 4-up with four holes to play before Strickland won the testy 15th with a par and the inviting 16th with a birdie. Dixon matched Strickland’s birdie at the par-4 17th to take his match 2&1.
Owen and Ormsby got the Georgia PGA off to a winning start when they won the first best ball match on the opening day of play, and scored just one of two Georgia PGA wins in alternate shot that afternoon. Owen easily won in the first singles out the next morning, wrapping up his match on the 13th hole just as the last pairing was teeing off.
Ormsby had to go 18 holes to win his singles match against Erik Martin, which began with seven straight halved holes. The two players split the next four holes with two wins each before Ormsby took a lead with a birdie at the 16th. Martin pulled even with a birdie at 17 before Ormsby won the 18th with a par to take the match 1-up.
Stevens and Keppler won both their senior matches handily over the duo of Savannah residents Doug Hanzel and Jack Hall, whose preparation for the Peters Cup was sidetracked by the damage done in their area by Hurricane Matthew. Hall struggled in his singles match against Stevens, but Hanzel took Keppler to the 18th hole, losing 1-up after making a comeback on the back nine.
Keppler led 2-up after 12, but Hanzel rolled in a long birdie putt at the 14th to square the match. Keppler got a half at 15 with a clutch par putt and took the lead with a deft pitch and short birdie putt at 16. A solid par at the 18th locked up Keppler’s victory, as Hanzel was forced to scramble after driving into the trees well right of the fairway.
Keppler, one of the Georgia PGA’s elite players for more than 25 years, was a late addition to the matches. He replaced James Mason, who qualified for the Champions Tour event in North Carolina, which concluded the day the Peters Cup began.
The Georgia PGA’s other two singles victories came from long-time tour players turned club pros Paul Claxton and Skinner, along with Seth McCain. Claxton and McCain went out early in the pairings, while Skinner jumped out to an early lead in the anchor match against 16-year-old Georgia Amateur champion Colin Bowles, who is some 40 years younger than Skinner.
McCain was also part of one of the Georgia PGA’s winning teams in best ball, taking a 2-up decision in one of just two matches that went to the 18th hole. Weinhart and Dixon also needed 18 holes in their best ball match.
The lone GSGA team to win both its team matches was the duo of former tour players John Engler of Augusta and Atlanta’s Kris Mikkelsen. Engler won his singles match to finish with a 3-0 record, while Mikkelsen lost to Claxton in a Georgia Tech vs. Georgia matchup.
Engler and Mikkelsen were among eight GSGA team members to post winning records. The senior team of Chris Hall and Jeff Belk, both of Marietta, went 1-0-1 in team matches and both won handily in singles. Atlanta’s Cameron Hooper also went 2-0-1 with a big victory in singles.
Going 2-1 with wins in singles were Rob Van Gorder of Acworth, Bob Royak of Alpharetta and Michael Standard of McDonough. Royak and Standard were winners in 4-ball, as were Hooper and Noll. Other alternate shot winners for the GSGA were Van Gorder and Valdosta’s Nic Daugharty, and Bowles and Covington’s Taylor Smith, whose 6&5 victory was the most lopsided of the team matches.
The Peters Cup has been played since the early 1960s and was known as the Challenge Cup until 2007, when it was re-named to honor Billy Peters, one of the most beloved figures in Georgia golf and an inductee into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 1993. Peters is a former President of the GSGA and Lifetime Honorary Member of the Georgia PGA.
Best Ball: Todd Ormsby–Kyle Owen (GPGA) def. Nic Daugharty-Rob Van Gorder 2&1; Matthew Evans-Seth McCain (GPGA) def. Erik Martin-Mark Strickland 2-up; Bob Royak-Michael Standard (GSGA) def. Paul Claxton-Hank Smith 3&1; Jeff Belk-Chris Hall (GSGA) def. Drew Pittman-Clark Spratlin 3&2;
Stephen Keppler-Craig Stevens (GPGA) def. Jack Hall-Doug Hanzel 3&2; Brian Dixon-Tim Weinhart (GPGA) def. Colin Bowles-Taylor Smith 1-up; John Engler-Kris Mikkelsen (GSGA) def. Mark Anderson-Joe Finemore 5&3; Cameron Hooper-David Noll (GSGA) def. Bill Murchison-Sonny Skinner 5&4.
Alternate Shot: Daugharty-Van Gorder (GSGA) def. Evans-McCain 3&2; Ormsby-Owen (GPGA) def. Standard-Royak 1-up; Strickland-Martin vs. H. Smith-Claxton, AS; Belk-C. Hall vs. Spratlin-Pittman, AS; Keppler-Stevens (GPGA) def. J. Hall-Hanzel 4&3; Mikkelsen-Engler (GSGA) def. Murchison-Finemore 1-up; Noll-Hooper vs. Dixon-Weinhart, AS; T. Smith-Bowles (GSGA) def. Anderson-Skinner 6&5.
(GSGA wins session 4 ½ to 3 ½; leads 8 1/2 to 7 ½.
Singles: Owen (GPGA) def. T. Smith 6&5; Claxton (GPGA) def. Mikkelsen 3&2; Engler (GSGA) def. Evans 2&1; McCain (GPGA) def. Daugharty 5&4; Ormsby (GPGA) def. Martin 1-up; Van Gorder (GSGA) def. Finemore 1-up; Stevens (GPGA) def. J. Hall 6&4; Keppler (GPGA) def. Hanzel 1-up;
- Hall (GSGA) def. Pittman 4&2; Belk (GSGA) def. Spratlin 5&3; Royak (GSGA) def. Anderson 2&1; Standard (GSGA) def. H. Smith 5&4; Hooper (GSGA) def. Murchison 5&4; Dixon (GPGA) def. Strickland 2&1; Weinhart (GPGA) def. Noll 2&1; Skinner (GPGA) def. Bowles 6&4.
(Georgia PGA wins the sessions 9-7 and the Peters Cup 16 ½ – 15 ½.)