The Georgia PGA won the Peters Cup for the third straight year, winning the 2014 event 17-15 over the GSGA at Champions Retreat outside Augusta.
The competition matches the Georgia PGA’s top club professionals against the state’s top amateurs, representing the GSGA. The Peters Cup was held annually from 1962 to 1987 before switching to a biennial event, and moved from an odd year date to even years in 2012.
After the GSGA won the event four straight times from 2003 to ’09, the Georgia PGA has won three in a row over the last four years. The club pros won the previous two matches handily by scores of 15-9 and 15 ½ – 8 ½, but this year’s competition was tight all the way, with the score tied 8-8 after the team matches.
The format was changed prior to this year’s competition, with a session of alternate shot matches added to the first day of play, which previously had consisted solely of best ball matches.
The Georgia PGA led 5-3 after the best ball matches, with the GSGA winning five of eight alternate shot matches to pull even going to singles the next day. The Georgia PGA went 8-6-2 in singles to score the victory in the most closely contested matches since 2003.
The event was known as the GSGA-GPGA Challenge Cup until 2007, when it became the Peters Cup in honor of Billy Peters, a 1993 inductee into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and a former president of the GSGA and honorary vice president of the Georgia PGA.
This was the first time the matches were played at Champions Retreat, a 27-hole private club in Evans with nine holes each designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course had hosted the event since 2005.
Only two players went undefeated in the matches – Tim Weinhart and Shawn Koch of the Georgia PGA. They won their team matches by scores of 3&2 and 5&3, and both scored singles wins over two of the top GSGA players.
Weinhart, an instructor at the Standard Club, defeated Chris Waters, the GSGA’s Public Links champion and a U.S. Amateur match play qualifier, 4&3 in the second match out. Koch, the Director of Instruction at Country Club of the South, won 2&1 in the anchor match against David Noll, who has eight career victories in the GSGA’s three most prominent events.
Koch has a history of success in Georgia PGA team events, being part of five winning teams in three different competitions. He also has three individual wins, including two of the Section’s three majors. He said he and Weinhart, a 7-time Georgia PGA Player of the Year, “paired up pretty good together,” winning both team matches handily.
Their alternate shot win was particularly important, as only two other Georgia PGA teams won in that format.
“That can be a difficult format for some people,” Koch said. “But we played a good match.”
With the Peters Cup tied going to singles, the two teams had to determine the order of play for the final day of matches, and the first order of business for the GPGA was to select a player to take on Noll.
“That asked who wanted to play Noll, and I raised my hand,” said Koch, who suffered through a sub-standard showing in Georgia PGA tournaments for most of 2014.
Koch hit his approach shot on the par-4 first hole inside two feet, but had to settle for a half when Noll holed a bunker shot for a matching birdie. The front nine went back and forth, with Noll winning the par-5 eighth with an eagle and Koch pulling even with a birdie at the ninth.
A pair of scrambling pars enabled Koch to win holes 10 and 12 to take a 2-up lead, and Koch went 3-up with three to play when he birdied the 15th and Noll missed his chance to halve the hole. After Noll won the 16th, Koch holed a 10-footer for par on the long par-3 17th to lock up his victory.
By the time the final match ended, the GPGA team had already secured the victory, with veterans Russ Davis, Charlie King and James Mason combining for three points with a win and two halves.
Four of the GPGA’s 12 players who competed in the non-senior division were over the age of 50, as a number of the top finishers in the Section’s points list were unable to compete due to scheduling conflicts.
Among them was King, the head pro at Griffin Golf Course, and Russ Davis, the Director of Instruction at Cherokee Town & CC. The two players were part of the only GPGA teams to win in alternate shot other than Weinhart and Koch, with Davis also scoring a key victory in singles.
Davis defeated Chad Branton 2&1, avenging a loss to Branton in a best ball match the day before. Davis was out-driven by considerable margins in his singles match, pointing out that Branton had 90 fewer yards to the green for his approach on one hole.
“It was like that all day,’ said Davis. “But that doesn’t get to me any more. I ‘m used to that.”
Going into the match, Davis felt he could win despite the disparity in distance between himself and Branton, but things didn’t look good for Davis when he lost the 10th hole to go 3-down. He responded by winning the next four holes and closed out the match with a birdie at the 17th, his third birdie in a torrid closing stretch.
Davis also was part of a crucial match win. He and Augusta Country Club head professional Tommy Brannen, another GPGA member in his 50s playing in the non-senior division, defeated Billy Mitchell and Bob Royak, one of the GSGA’s top duos, 4&2 in alternate shot.
Brannen and Davis lost earlier that day to Branton and Cres Dodd 5&3 in best ball, but the Georgia PGA veterans meshed well in alternate shot.
“We played poorly in the morning,” Davis said. “But I hit a lot of good shots in the afternoon and Tommy putted beautifully. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody putt like that.”
Brannen had a rough day in singles , but his win with Davis helped provide the Georgia PGA with its margin of victory. All but one of the team’s 16 players accounted for at least one point, with 15 of the 16 GSGA team members also netting at least one point.
Other than two matches that were halved, only one other singles match went to the 18th hole, with Chicopee Woods Director of Instruction Jeff Frasier winning 1-up over Doug Stiles.
Frasier was one of only two Georgia PGA competitors not to be part of a winning team the first day, losing twice to Noll and Waters, the only GSGA duo to go 2-0.
“We were just outgunned a little bit,” Frazier said, teaming with Patrick Richardson in best ball and Seth McCain in alternate shot. “We played some good golf but came up just short.”
Frasier said he only knew two of the GSGA players (Waters and Stiles) prior to the matches, and drew both as opponents.
“To me personally, I didn’t want to lose three matches and I put everything I had into it,” Frasier said of his singles victory
Frasier won two of the first three holes to jump out to an early lead and was 3-up after seven before Stiles won the ninth. Frasier maintained his lead on the back nine and was 3-up with three to play. Stiles birdied the 16th and won the 17th when Frasier three-putted for the only time in the match.
After reaching a greenside bunker in two on the par-5 finishing hole, Stiles had about a 6-footer for birdie, while Frasier was outside 20 feet.
When Frasier hit his birdie putt, he felt it was going to come up just short, but the ball barely got to the hole and just fell over the lip of the cup as Frasier began walking toward it.
It was the first Peters Cup appearance for Frasier, who was among the players added to the Georgia PGA squad to replace those unable to participate.
Players winning two points were Matthew Evans, Todd Ormsby, Craig Stevens , Davis and McCain for the Georgia PGA, and Travis Steed, Doug Hanzel, Don Marsh, Carter Collins, Dodd, Noll and Waters for the GSGA.
Best ball: Stephen Keppler-Matthew Evans (GPGA) def. Billy Mitchell-Bob Royak 4&3; Shawn Koch-Tim Weinhart (GPGA) def. Stan Gann-Travis Steed 3&2; James Kiely-Doug Stiles (GSGA) def. Charlie King-Todd Ormsby 1-up; Rodger Hogan-Craig Stevens (GPGA) def. Jack Hall-Doug Hanzel 2-up; James Mason-Danny Elkins (GPGA) def. Chris Hall-Don Marsh 1-up; Chad Branton-Cres Dodd (GSGA)def. Tommy Brannen-Russ Davis 4&2; Greg Lee-Seth McCain (GPGA) def. Carter Collins-Matt Russell 3&2; David Noll-Chris Waters (GSGA) def. Jeff Frasier-Patrick Richardson 3&2. GPGA 5, GSGA 3.
Alternate shot: Gann-Steed (GSGA) def. Keppler-Evans 5&4; Brannen-Davis (GPGA) def. Mitchell-Royak 4&2; Koch-Weinhart (GPGA) def. Kiely-Stiles 5&4; J. Hall-Hanzel (GSGA) def, Hogan-Stevens 4&2; C. Hall-Marsh (GSGA) def. McCain-Elkins 3&2; King-Ormsby (GPGA) def. Branton-Dodd 2-up; Collins-Russell (GSGA) def. Lee-Richardson (2&1). GSGA 5, GPGA 3. MATCH SCORE 8-8.
Singles: Mitchell (GSGA) def. Keppler 3&2; Weinhart (GPGA) def. Waters 4&3; Evans (GPGA) def. Gann 2&1; Collins (GSGA) def. Richardson 4&3; McCain (GPGA) def. Royak 3&2; Frasier (GPGA) def. Stiles 1-up; Stevens (GPGA) def. J. Hall 2&1; Hanzel (GSGA) def.) Hogan 3&2; Marsh (GSGA) def. Elkins 5&3; Mason vs. C. Hall, halved; King vs. Kiely, halved; Davis (GPGA) def. Branton 2&1; Dodd (GSGA) def. Brannen 9&8; Ormsby (GPGA) def. Russell 2&1; Steed (GSGA) def. Lee 4&3; Koch (GPGA) def. Noll 2&1. GPGA 9, GSGA 7.
FINAL SCORE: GPGA 17, GSGA 15.