The Georgia PGA 2018 points events schedule opens with the Match Play Championship, which begins this week but will not conclude until mid-August.
The tournament sports a 64-player field, with the first four rounds consisting of matches at sites determined by the participants. The semifinals and finals will be played Aug. 13 at Peachtree GC, which has hosted the last two rounds of the tournament since 2014.
The tournament’s top seed is 2017 Georgia PGA Player of the Year Kyle Owen, the head pro at Dunwoody CC. It was one of three runner-up finishes last year for Owen in Georgia PGA events, along with strong showings in the final two tournaments of the season that propelled him to No. 1 on the points list.
Owen, who lost to Peachtree head pro Donn Perno in the final, had not been past the quarterfinals in the Match Play previously, losing in that round in 2013 and ’16.
It was Perno’s second title in the Match Play, following a 2013 victory at East Lake. Perno is seeded 18th in the field, and could face No. 15 David Potts, the 2010 Match Play champion, in the second round. Potts, an instructor at CC of the South, is seeded 15th. Potts has advanced to the quarterfinals twice since 2012 and reached the third round in ’16.
Three-time tournament champion Tim Weinhart, a 9-time Georgia PGA Player of the Year, is seeded second. Weinhart, the Director of Instruction at Heritage Golf Links, won in 2005, ’11 and ’12 on three different courses. He also advanced to the finals in 2000 and 2010, and reached the semifinals four other times, including 2015 and ’16.
Brian Dixon, an instructor at Fox Creek, has put together a remarkable record in the Match Play, including tournament titles in 1997 and 2014. His win in 2014 snapped a streak in which he lost eight straight years in the third round. Since his victory, Dixon has advanced to the quarterfinals each of the last three years.
Dixon faces a potentially difficult second round match against either J.P. Griffin of Capital City Club , one of the Section’s top assistants, or Golf Club of Georgia Director of Golf Matthew Evans, who has advanced to at least the quarterfinals four times since 2010, losing in the 2015 championship match.
Sonny Skinner, who won the Match Play in his first appearance in 2006, is seeded fourth, and has been to the quarterfinals or beyond six times since his victory. He reached the semifinals in 2015 and the championship match the next year. Skinner could face Frederica GC Director of Golf Hank Smith in the second round. Smith has won two of the Georgia PGA’s majors in recent years – the Section Championship and Atlanta Open. Skinner won the Atlanta Open in 2015 and ’16.
Todd Ormsby, the Director of Golf at Highland CC in LaGrange, is seeded fifth, followed by Cherokee Town & CC instructor Peter Jones. Ormsby could play Willow Lake head pro Gregg Wolff, the 2003 Match Play champion, in the second round.
Craig Stevens, who won the Match Play Championship in 2000 and has been to at least the quarterfinals 10 times since, is the No. 7 seed. Stevens, who recently joined the instruction staff at Woodmont, was a finalist in 2012 and ’13 and a semifinalist in ’14. Stevens could face Ansley GC Director of Golf Phil Taylor, the 2003 runner-up to Wolff, in the second round.
Justin Martin, Director of Golf at Atlanta’s First Tee facility is the eighth seed, and like several of his fellow top seeds, has a player with a history of success in the Match Play as a possible second-round opponent. Greg Lee won the tournament in 2007 and reached the finals two other times, most recently in 2014, along with three other trips to the semis.
Longtime Georgia Golf Center owner and operator Danny Elkins is seeded ninth, with Cartersville CC head pro Bill Hassell seeded 10th and West Pines head pro Chris Cartwright 11th. Cartwright reached the quarterfinals two years ago.
Wyatt Detmer, the head pro at Callaway Gardens, reached the semifinals last year, the first time he has made a deep run in the tournament since losing in the finals to Skinner in 2006. The 12th-seeded Detmer could face Brickyard head pro Zac Tilton, a much younger player with a significant length advantage, in the second round.
Ryan Williams of Country Club of Columbus is seeded 13th, followed by Seth McCain of Jennings Mill. McCain has been a frequent contender in the tournament in recent years, winning at Peachtree in 2016 after making it to the quarters and semis a few years prior.
McCain could face Towne Lake Hills Director of Instruction Bill Murchison, who has made it to the quarterfinals or beyond four times since 2009, in the second round. Murchison would have to get past Brookfield CC head pro Michael Parrott in what shapes up as one of the most competitive first-round matches. Parrott reached the semifinals in 2012 and the quarterfinals two years later. McCain also has a testy first-round match, as he plays Ansley GC Director of Instruction Russ Davis, one of a number of highly competitive senior-age players in the Georgia PGA.
Kevin Gibbs, the head pro at Oak Mountain in Carrollton, reached the quarterfinals last year and is seeded 16th. He is seeded just ahead of CC of the South Director of Instruction Shawn Koch, also a quarterfinalist last year who won the tournament in 2008. Gibbs, who could face Koch in the second round, advanced to the quarters last year by defeating Oak Mountain assistant Matthew Sanders in the third round. The two are on opposite sides of the bracket this time. Sanders is seeded 22nd and is in line to face Cartwright in the second round.
The players have approximately one month to schedule their matches for the first four rounds before the four semifinalists meet at Peachtree. The semifinal matches are played in the morning, with the championship match in the afternoon on Aug. 13.
The Match Play Championship is considered one of the Georgia PGA’s four majors along with the Georgia Open, Atlanta Open and Section Championship.