by Rick Price, PGA
The game of golf never ceases to amaze me how from one hole to the next, from the front to back nine or a round of golf from day to day can be so dramatically different, as perfectly presented in the 17th Annual
Gibson Cup Matches. The top Southwest Section Southern Chapter PGA professionals and the Arizona Golf Associations Southern Arizona amateurs compete against each other in a match play format promoting competition between the associations to see who will reign as the annual champion.
La Paloma Country Club again hosted this friendly competition. The first day’s format consisted of Four Ball matches, two players from each team paired together playing their best ball against the other team. The final round consisted of single matches where scoring was based on a point system, (1) point for the low front nine, (1) point for the low back nine, (1) point for the overall low eighteen hole total.
After the first round team matches, the professionals were in a complete reversal from last year. Even though the professionals won the year prior, they had a dismal opening day only recording a total of (4 ½) points. Well, they seemed determined not have that happen again, starting off with a flurry. In the senior division matches Jim Kirwan holes out from the fairway for an eagle two on the first hole and his partner local Icon Bob Gaona follows it up on the second hole and does the same thing to take an early two up lead.
Tak Fuji turned in a stellar performance winning all (3) points to become the team hero
While the sparks began to diminish at the closing of the first round, professionals had an amazing (13 ½ – 4 ½) lead over the amateurs. What was so ironic was it’s the exact same lead the amateur had over the professional last year before they squandered it in the final round. A nine-point lead is incredible and almost impossible to lose. However, the history of golf had something to say about the outcome, as it did for the amateurs the year prior.
The history of the matches has the professionals leading the series (10-6) after their win last year. The amateurs were coming off a four year winning streak before handing the Cup back over to the professionals.
During the final twelve single round matches, I was not sure what was colder; the weather or the professionals play, because they were ice cold. The amateurs heated up the temperature putting the pressure on the professionals match after match. After only the first six matches the amateurs had already pulled into a tie for the lead.
The final six matches were going back and forth and still looked to be up in the air on who would come out on top. As team captain, Brandon Smith, head professional from Ventana Canyon, finished his match winning (2 ½) points over Grant Cesarek. The professionals took back the lead. However, the next match produced a stunning surprise when the veteran amateur Erik Nielson took down professional Chris Dompier winning all (3) points to retake the lead.
As it usually does, it came down to the final group; Professional John Basden against John Bobroski and amateur Tak Fuji playing Ryan Eckroat. The anticipation of the outcome was weighing heavy for both professional and amateur teams on who was going to be the ultimate winner of the 17th Annual Gibson Cup matches. The name “Gibson Cup” is in honor of long time local PGA club professional and University of Arizona Golf coach, John Gibson.
The amateurs only needed (2) points for the victory as the professionals needed (4) points. Professional John Basden recorded (2) points to draw the professionals closer to a back to back win. However, it was not to be for the professionals as amateur Tak Fuji turned in a stellar performance winning all (3) points to become the team hero for the amateurs.
Amateurs posted an amazing (24 ½) points in the single matches over the professionals (10 ½) points for an overall victory (29) to (25). This brings the seventeen-year history to a total of ten wins for the Southwest Section Southern Chapter professionals and seven wins for the Arizona Golf Associations Southern Arizona amateurs.