Michael Hopper wins Southwest PGA Match Play in tight finals

Michael Hopper hits the ball with his driver Southwest PGA Match Play. (Submitted Photo)

After a final match that at times resembled a boxing match with both participants exchanging blows, it was sixth-seeded Michael Hopper who came out as the victor, capturing his second consecutive Southwest PGA Match Play title at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree.

This was Mr. Hopper’s third Southwest PGA Match Play title overall and fourth Southwest PGA major championship which came after defeating fifth-seeded Marty Jertson 1-up in the final match. The tournament ran from Tuesday, July 18 until Thursday, July 20.

“It feels really good,” Mr. Hopper said in a prepared statement. “I don’t know what it is about match play but the last couple years I’ve played really well so maybe there’s something to it.”

As he did in the final match last year, Mr. Hopper, PGA assistant golf professional at Lookout Mountain Golf Club in north Phoenix, jumped out to an early 3-up lead through five holes after Mr. Jertson made bogeys on Holes 3 and 5, a press release states.

He had to take unplayable penalties on both holes after his tee shots ended up in the desert areas, according to a release.

“I could tell Marty was a little off early,” Mr. Hopper said in a prepared statement. “Once I got 3-up, I figured if I don’t make any mistakes this could be another early match like the one I had earlier (in the semifinal) against Craig (Hocknull).”

Mr. Hopper’s 3-up lead would disappear after losing on Holes 6, 7 and 8, the same exact three holes he lost in the year prior. Mr. Jertson, PGA Professional and senior design engineer at PING Golf, who went par-birdie-birdie and got the match all square.

“Marty hit some great shots on those holes,” said Hopper. “I did make a couple mistakes but he really played them well and I was like ‘here we go again’ and just like that the match was all square.”

Mr. Jertson hit an errant tee shot on Hole 9 and had to take an unplayable penalty, resulting in a bogey. With Mr. Hopper making par, he was 1-up as both players headed to the back nine.

Michael Hopper uses his putter on the green at the Southwest PGA Match Play. (Submitted Photo)

After Mr. Hopper’s birdie on Hole 10 to go 2-up, Mr. Jertson came right back and won the 11th and 12th holes to once again level the match.

“I was just a little off with my driver today and it hurt me on the 11th hole,” Mr. Hopper said in a prepared statement.

“Marty hit a great shot on No. 12 and yah, we were tied again. I was feeling the heat a little bit but it was definitely fun to play in that kind of match.”

After both players halved Hole 13 with pars, Mr. Jertson hit his tee shot on the 14th hole wide left, forcing him to take another unplayable penalty. Mr. Hopper made par and won the hole to go back up in the match.

Mr. Hopper’s lead was once again short-lived as his tee shot on Hole 15 went wide right, resulting in an unplayable penalty. His next shot stayed along the right side and in the desert and could not be found, resulting in him conceding the hole to Jertson and the match was all square.

Mr. Hopper went on to win Hole 16 and go 1-up in the match after making par to Mr. Jertson’s bogey. Both players halved the par 3, 17th hole and par 4, 18th hole, giving Mr. Hopper the Championship title 1-up.

“I just made too many mistakes today,” Mr. Jertson said in a prepared statement. “This course is really tough and I haven’t played in the Match Play Championship in 6 or 7 years so coming back and finishing as the runner-up is pretty good. I had a great time.”

Mr. Hopper said he thought he had some solid golf play that lead to his championship.

“I didn’t make very many mistakes really,” he said in a prepared statement. “I was 2 or 3 under-par in every match. If you’re 2 or 3 under out here on this golf course, there is a good chance you’re going to be very successful.”

Mr. Hopper joins John Jackson and Tom Tatum as the only professionals to win three or more titles in the history of the Championship. He is also the first player to win back-to-back Match Play titles since Frank Boynton accomplished the feat.

In the semifinal matches played earlier in the day, Mr. Hopper defeated the two-seed Craig Hocknull, PGA Director of Instruction at Outback Golf Academy in Mesa, 6 and 5. In the other semifinal,

Mr. Jertson defeated the 17-seed Brant Kummerfeld, PGA apprentice assistant professional at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, 1-up.

The Scottsdale Independent publishes a free daily newsletter. A print edition is mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses each month. If you value our journalistic mission, please consider showing us your support.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment