Greg Lee, Seth McCain, Brian Dixon round out foursome
The semifinals and finals of the Georgia PGA Match Play Championship move to Atlanta’s Peachtree Golf Club this month, with the tournament concluding August 18.
The event began in April with a 64-player field. The first four rounds were played at sites determined by the competing players, with the four survivors advancing to the semifinals at Peachtree. Those two matches will be played in the morning, with the championship match scheduled for early in the afternoon.
The first three players to reach the semifinals were Greg Lee, Seth McCain and Brian Dixon, the No. 10, 11 and 13 seeds respectively in the 64-player field.
Both Lee and Dixon are former Match Play champions with long histories in the event, with McCain making his first impact on the tournament last year. They were joined in the semifinals by No. 1 seed and two-time champion Craig Stevens, whose history of success in the tournament goes back 30 years.
The semifinal match-ups are Stevens vs. Dixon and Lee vs. McCain.
Lee, an assistant professional at Chicopee Woods, won the Match Play at Callaway Gardens in 2007, when the tournament was played at one site over three days. He defeated Matt Peterson, who went on to win the tournament two years later, in the finals and three-time champion Clark Spratlin in the quarterfinals that year.
Spratlin defeated Lee in the 2001 finals at Hawk’s Ridge, with Lee reaching at least the quarterfinals nine times in the last 14 years.
Lee’s toughest matches came early in the bracket, as he defeated Andy Stelten of Berkeley Hills 1-up in the first round and Tim Robinson of Dick’s Sporting Goods 2&1 in the second round. Lee knocked off No. 7 seed Bill Murchison of Towne Lake Hills 4&3 in the third round, and won by the same score over Richard Hatcher of Ansley Golf Club in the quarterfinals.
Hatcher advanced with wins over No. 15 Jason Bruce of Golftec and No. 18 Mark Avery of Brookstone G&CC in the first two rounds. He defeated Kevin Gibbs of Oak Mountain 3&2 in the third round, with Gibbs scoring an upset in his previous match, getting past second-seeded Tim Weinhart of the Standard Club 1-up. Weinhart has won the tournament three times, including back-to-back titles in 2011 and ’12.
Lee will face fellow Athens resident McCain in one semifinal match. McCain, an assistant at Jennings Mill, reached the quarterfinals last year, and got past two of the Georgia PGA Section’s top players in his two most recent matches to reach the semifinals this year.
McCain defeated sixth-seeded Spratlin 2-up in the third round, then scored a decisive 7&6 win over 2006 Match Play champion Sonny Skinner in the quarterfinals. Skinner, the No. 3 seed, won by a similar 7&6 margin in the third round over No. 14 Charlie King of Griffin City Golf Course after advancing in the first two rounds by scores of 5&4 and 4&3.
Lee has won five Georgia PGA Section tournaments, including the Atlanta Open and Georgia PGA Championship along with three Assistants Championships, but his ’07 victory in the Match Play is his last win in a points event. McCain has three Georgia PGA wins, the most recent the 2012 Atlanta Open.
Dixon, an instructor at Fox Creek, has a long history in the Match Play Championship, winning in 1997 at the Woodlands course at Chateau Elan. He reached the quarterfinals in 2001, but since 2006 has hit a roadblock once he’s reached the third round.
Until taking his third round match 2&1 over Dunwoody Country Club assistant Kyle Owen, the No. 4 seed, Dixon had been eliminated in the third round eight straight years from 2006-‘13. He finally ended his string of third round losses and made it to the semifinals for the first time since his win in ’97, defeating Rivermont head professional Matthew Evans 2-up in the quarterfinals.
Evans was among the players to keep Dixon’s third round streak going, ousting him in 2011. Evans defeated Ted Fort of Marietta Golf Center 5&4 in the third round after Fort had knocked off No. 5 seed Shawn Koch of Country Club of the South 2-up in the second round.
Dixon won his first two matches by scores of 2&1, winning against St. Ives head pro Billy Jack in the second round. Jack knocked out 2013 Georgia PGA PNC winner Todd Ormsby, the new head pro at Highland CC in LaGrange, in 19 holes in the first round.
Stevens has an even longer history in the tournament, winning for the first time in 1985 and capturing his second title in 2000. Since then, Stevens has lost three times in the finals, including 2012 to Weinhart at the UGA course and last year at East Lake to Peachtree head pro Donn Perno, retiring midway through the title match due to heat exhaustion.
Three of Stevens’ four matches this year went at least 17 holes. He edged Joe Finemore of Big Canoe 1-up in the second round, and after scoring an easy victory over Cherokee instructor Kevin Roman, got past Brookfield instructor Michael Parrott, a 2009 finalist, 2&1 in the quarterfinals.
Parrott, who was placed in a bracket with golfers from the Georgia coast, defeated No. 9 seed Will Hutter of Sea Island GC 3&2 in the first round, and edged No. 8 Patrick Richardson 1-up in the third round. Parrott was among the lowest seeds in the tournament after missing most of the 2013 season due to knee surgery.