Three former champions are among the four players who have advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 Georgia PGA Match Play Championship.
The semifinals and championship match will be played Sept. 30 at Peachtree GC, with the four semifinalists having won four matches each to make it to Peachtree. The first four rounds were played at courses selected by the competitors, with Peachtree hosting the final two rounds for the sixth straight year.
The two semifinal matches will be played in the morning, with the championship match following after a short lunch break.
Sonny Skinner, who won the tournament in his first year of eligibility in 2006, was the top seed in the 64-player field. He will face fourth-seeded J.P. Griffin, the lone semifinalist who has not won the tournament previously.
The other semifinal will match sixth seeded Brian Dixon, who won the championship in 1997 and 2014, and No. 10 seed David Potts, the 2010 winner. Skinner and Potts scored their victories when the event was played over three days at one site, with Skinner winning at Callaway Gardens and Potts at the UGA course. Dixon captured his first title at the Woodlands at Chateau Elan, and won again 17 years later at Peachtree, the first time the course hosted the final two rounds.
Skinnernever had to go past 16 holes in his four matches, winning by scores of 5&3, 6&5, 3&2 and 3&2 in the quarterfinals over No. 8 seed Todd Ormsby, the head pro at Highland CC in LaGrange. Skinner won 3&2 in the third round over Robert Long of the King and Prince course on St. Simons Island.
Ormsby defeated Austin Kleynenberg of the Ford Plantation 4&3 in the third round, with Kleynenberg advancing on a forfeit when ninth seed Hank Smith left the Frederica Club to take a job outside the state.
Last year, Skinner lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Justin Martin, and has advanced to at least the quarterfinals eight times since 2006. Skinner lost in the championship match to Seth McCain at Peachtree in 2016, and also advanced to the semifinals in 2010 and ’15. Skinner, who plays out of Spring Hill in Tifton, spent four years on the PGA Tour in the 1990s and made more than 300 starts on what began as the Ben Hogan Tour in 1990, winning twice. He has also made 34 starts on the Champions Tour since turning 50 in 2010.
Skinner comes into the semifinals leading the Georgia PGA Player of the Year points list thanks to several top finishes previously in 2019, and also has three wins in Senior Division tournaments.
Griffin, an assistant at Capital City Club, made his debut in the Match Play Championship last year, and reached the third round with a victory over Dixon. He won each of his first three matches this year by scores of 2&1, defeating 13thseeded Chris Shircliff of the Standard Club in the third round. He made it to the semis with a 3&2 victory in the quarterfinals over defending champion Martin, an instructor at the Bobby Jones GC.
Coming into the semifinals, Griffin is 11thon the points list, opening his 2019 schedule by contending in the Georgia PGA event at Chattahoochee GC as well as the Atlanta Open.
Potts, an instructor at Country Club of the South, won 3&1 in the quarterfinals over Peter Jones, who lost in last year’s title match to Martin. Potts won his first match on a forfeit and scored decisive wins in his next two matches by scores of 5&4 and 4&3.
Jones, who was seeded second, had to go 24 holes to win his opening match over Shaun Kelley of Hampton Golf Village, and won 2&1 in the second round before rolling into the quarterfinals with a 6&5 decision. Jones is the Director of Instruction at Cherokee Town & CC.
Potts’ path to the semifinals was cleared by East Lake’s Drew Dunn,who knocked off three-time champion Tim Weinhart, the seventh seed, 3&2 in the first round. Dunn lost on the 20thhole in the second round to Scott Curiel of Heritage Golf Links, with Curiel eliminated in the third round by Potts.
This is the second straight year Potts has made it to the semifinals, losing in that round in 2018 to Jones. It was the first time he advanced past the quarterfinals since his victory in 2010, when he defeated Weinhart in the championship match. Potts reached the quarterfinals in 2012 and ’15, and made it to the third round in 2011 and ’16.
Potts has played a limited tournament schedule in 2019, with his best showing a tie for seventh in the season opener at Chattahoochee GC.
Dixon, an instructor at Fox Creek, had the toughest path to the semifinals of the four remaining players. He won 5&4 in the first round against Jacob Tilton of Ansley GC, currently seventh on the Player of the year points list. Dixon got past 2008 champion Shawn Koch, the Director of Instruction at CC of the South, 1-up in the second round. Koch defeated Dixon in the third round en route to his tournament title.
In a rematch of the 1997 championship match, Dixon defeated 11thseeded Danny Elkins of the Georgia Golf Center 2&1 in the third round. Dixon made it to the semis for the first time since his 2014 tournament victory, winning 2-up in the quarters over third seed Kyle Owen, the head pro at Dunwoody CC. Owen was the 2017 runner-up, losing to Peachtree head pro Donn Perno in the finals.
Perno, who won the tournament in 2013 at East Lake and four years after that on his home course, lost to Martin 3&2 in the third round this year.
Dixon has compiled a remarkably consistent record in the tournament since 2006. He lost in the third round seven straight years before capturing his second title in 2014. He lost to Weinhart in the 2015 quarterfinals and to James Mason in the quarterfinals in 2016 and ’17 before his early round elimination against Griffin last year.
So far this year, Dixon has won two Senior Division tournaments, but other than a tie for seventh at Berkeley Hills, has not had his best season in non-senior events.