The Southwest Section PGA (SWSPGA) Southern Chapter Match Play Championship, hosted by The Stone Canyon Club was as a dramatic conclusion of any professional golf event that you could have watched on television.
In championship fashion the top local 16 seeded qualifying PGA professionals were vying for this major title.
In typical match play style in the first round matches, defending champion Josh Brown of La Paloma CC was ousted by Stone Canyon’s professional Brent Newcomb 2 & 1. The number one seed Mike Russell, head professional at The Stone Canyon Club, took advantage of his home course knowledge by defeating Jay Tomerlin of San Pedro golf course 6 & 5. Wade Dunagan toppled Brent Lingel of Blanchard golf course 5 & 4 to advance to the quarter-finals. As well as Brandon Smith cruising to an 8 & 7 victory over Justin Lindberg. In quick fashion Don Littrell put away Derek Deminsky 6 & 5 as did Chris Dompier over his opponent John Basden from Ventana Canyon. Basden said, “I was four down after seven holes, and I made three birdies, go figure.” Rich Elias out lasted Director of Golf Steve Hughes of La Paloma CC 1 up and Poston Butte’s professional Ryan Eckroat beat Carl Allen from Ventana Canyon 2 & 1.
During the afternoon quarter-final matches Russell made a clutch birdie on the 17th hole to come away with a 2 & 1 decision over Wade Dunagan. Brandon Smith continued his stellar play winning over Skyline CC’s Don Littrell 3 & 2. In a back and forth battle Brent Newcomb knocked Rich Elias out of his bid for the title with a 1 up victory. In the most decisive afternoon matches head professional from Skyline CC Chris Dompier out played Ryan Eckroat 7 & 6 advancing to the semi-finals.
The following morning match between Mike Russell and Brandon Smith had to be one of the most outstanding rounds of golf witnessed. Russell stated, “He put on a clinic. It was absolutely amazing.” Smith destroyed the concept of home course advantage by proceeding to birdie 10 of the 13 holes played to defeat the host professional 7 & 5. Smith said, “It was just one of those days.” Well, someone else just having one of those days was Chris Dompier, he went on a birdie barrage defeating Brent Newcomb 5 & 3, which included a Hole-in-One on the 6th hole from 145 yards with a pitching wedge to propel him to the title match.
The final match of the championship had Smith matching up against Dompier, who had not lost a singles match in a year and most recently won the Southwest Section PGA Match Play Championship. Nevertheless, Smith got off to an early lead and after 10 holes found himself 2 up. The fierce competitor that Dompier is, taking advantage of Smith’s putter going cold for a few holes as his lit on fire, halving the match after twelve with a thirty foot birdie putt. Dompier stuck it to within a couple of feet on the 193 yard par 3 14th hole to go 1 up, only to have Smith birdie the 15th to bring the match back to even. On the difficult 237 yard par 3 16th hole, Dompier hit it to within a couple of feet again to go one up, Smith responded on the 17th hole by hitting his approach shot to within a foot of the hole for a birdie to even the match.
As both players recorded par on the final hole, it only seemed fitting that they both deserved the championship title based on how they both played. However, they went back to the 18th tee to determine the champion with both players driving it down the middle and hitting their approach shots on the green. Smith putted first rolling his ball over the corner of the hole and proceeded to watch Dompier sink his putt from 25 feet to claim the Southern Chapter PGA Match Play Championship.