The semifinal and final matches of the 36th Match Play Championship were nothing but exciting. The championship flight semifinals featured four strong competitors.
The first match was between John Hornbeck of Saratoga and Green River’s own Kyle Siddoway. After a slow start, Hornbeck was forced to come back on the second nine. After a 19-hole finish in the round of sixteen, and a stunning 23 hole final in the quarters over Tom Griffin, Siddoway’s fatigue likely started to show. Facing the final three holes, Hornbeck had a comfortable 3 up lead. Siddoway fought back with birdies on 16 and 17. After another monster drive over the pond on the short par-four 18th, Siddoway was in position to take the match into extra holes. With an impressive approach, Siddoway left himself with a 10 foot birdie in contrast to Hornbeck’s 30 foot birdie putt. After a three putt from Hornbeck, Siddoway’s par was good enough to force an extra hole. On the nineteenth hole of the match, Hornbeck sunk a five foot slider for par to close out the match over the lengthy Siddoway.
The other semifinal match in the championship flight was between Riverton’s PJ Thomas and Sheridan’s Kamrin Allen. Through 15 holes, Allen had himself a 3 up advantage. With a birdie from Thomas on the 16th, the round continued to the 17th. Allen was able to close out Thomas on this hole to secure his spot in the Championship final.
After a calm morning round, the wind picked up for the championship matches. Kamrin Allen was looking to put his name in the WSGA history books with a win, while his opponent John Hornbeck was in a familiar position looking to make it back-to-back Match Play Championship wins. After a fast start from Allen, Hornbeck was up against a wall. As the wind continued to torment the player’s games, the match went from an Allen advantage, then to a tie, then right back to an Allen advantage. On the 9th hole it was looking as if Hornbeck would drop to three down with an errant tee shot, but he made an incredible par save to stay at two down. With a three-putt bogey on the 10th by Allen, the lead was back down to one. After halves at the par-four 11th, Allen struck again with a thirty-footer for birdie. Having a two-up advantage going into the 16th, Hornbeck was pressing to stay in the match. After a great up and down by Hornbeck for par, Allen had a short par putt to force the match into dormie. With an unexpected missed par putt by Allen, the advantage appeared to swing into Hornbeck’s favor even with his one stroke disadvantage. On the 17th hole, Hornbeck’s driver once again found trouble when his ball found the base of some bushes. With an unplayable lie, Hornbeck’s chances of defending his title ended. All Allen needed was a two-putt from a mere 10 feet and he would earn his first WSGA Match Play Title.
Kamrin Allen had an interesting ride to the top as a number 15 seed in the Championship bracket. He received this seeding by scraping out a playoff win over five other players in the stroke play qualifier. After barely making it into the championship flight, Allen faced a difficult opponent in Green River’s Jason Tharp. With a gutsy birdie on the 18th hole, Allen forced extra holes with the hometown player and was able to take Tharp down on the first extra hole. After cruising through the quarterfinals with a 6&5 victory over Cody’s Dave Balling, the rest was history for Allen. He stayed composed throughout the tournament, even when things weren’t going his way. His most impressive feature, however, was the way he battle his nerves and the gusting wind in the final match.
Other winners today included Austin Hinchey with a dominating win over Thayne Balling at 7&5 in the first flight. The second flight included two left-handed players in Eugene Routledge and Mike Bohlman. Routledge won this final on the 18th hole with a 1-up advantage. The third flight was split between Jim Field and Jerry Carroll. Rounding out the tournament was the fourth flight, Dave Marlin won his match at 3&2 over Larry Hedderman.