THE 45TH SOUTHWEST PGA MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – August 21, 2020 – The 45th Southwest PGA Match Play Championship is scheduled to take place August 24-26 at Verde River Golf & Social Club in Rio Verde, Ariz. The Section’s third major of the 2020 season, which was originally scheduled in May but was changed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, begins with 48 Southwest PGA Professionals competing in a 64-player field bracket. The top four seeds for the 45th edition of the Championship are: defending champion Michael Hopper (1), Marty Jertson (2), Dennis Downs (3) and Matt VanCleave (4).
Hopper, 36, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Lookout Mountain Golf Club in Phoenix, attempts to win his record-tying fifth Southwest PGA Match Play title (2011, 2016, 2017, 2019). Hopper captured last year’s title in 19 holes after defeating Downs in an epic final match that had Hopper down three with three holes to play.
“That was the craziest match I’ve ever been a part of,” said Hopper about the 2019 final match. “When I got to No. 16, I was three down with three to play and there was no secret of what I needed to do. I honestly thought if I can go eagle, birdie, birdie I had a chance. Dennis played so well and we had this incredible match that I will never forget.”
Jertson, 39, PGA Professional and Vice President of Fitting & Performance at PING Golf, enters the Championship as the 2-seed. He is coming off competing in his third consecutive PGA Championship two weeks ago at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif. Jertson finished tied for fourth in the 2020 Southwest PGA Championship/PPC at SouthShore Country Club in Henderson, Nev. In addition to playing in the PGA Championship, Jertson also earned a spot in the 120th U.S. Open Championship, scheduled for Sept. 14-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
The 3-seeded Downs, 38, PGA Director of Instruction at Eagle's Nest at Pebble Creek in Goodyear, Ariz., is second in the Southwest PGA Player of the Year race. He won three of the first five Southwest PGA Player Series events and finished tied for fourth in the 2020 Southwest PGA Championship/PPC.
VanCleave, 38, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club in Gold Canyon, Ariz., enters the Championship as the 4-seed and is fourth in Southwest PGA Player of the Year points. In the five Players Series events in 2020, VanCleave has four top-five finishes and a tie for 11th.
Jesse Mueller, 37, PGA Director of Golf at Grand Canyon University Golf Club in Phoenix, leads the Southwest PGA Player of the Year race after winning the 2020 Southwest PGA Championship/PPC and finishing tied for eighth in the Arizona Open and a tie for second in the most recent Player Series event. Mueller is the 8-seed and, after his opening round bye, will take on the winner of the Aaron Johnson (25 seed), Somin Lee (40 seed) match in the second round.
The 48-player field includes six past champions – Chris Dompier, 44, PGA Head Golf Professional at Skyline Country Club in Tucson (2010), Hopper, Craig Hocknull, 45, PGA Director of Instruction at Saber Golf (2013, 2018), D.K. Kim, 34, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale (2015), Randy Wittig, 60, PGA Director of Instruction at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale (2002), and Dean Vomacka, 50, PGA Head Golf Professional at Tucson Country Club (2003).
The 45th Southwest PGA Match Play Championship gets underway with the opening round matches on Monday, August 24 at 7:00 a.m. followed by second round matches at 12:00 p.m. The round of 16 and quarterfinal matches are scheduled for Tuesday, August 25 at 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively. The semi-final matches and final match are slated for Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.
John Jackson, PGA General Manager at Corte Bella Golf Club in Sun City West, Ariz., holds many of the records in the Match Play Championship, including the most victories in the history of the Championship with five (1976, 1978, 1980, 1988, 1993). Hopper, Jackson and PGA Life Member Tom Tatum (1982, 1985, 1992) are the only Southwest PGA Professionals to win three or more Match Play titles.
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