AGA Snaps 25-Year Losing Streak with Thrilling Victory over the SWSPGA in 49th Bob Goldwater Cup Mat
Front Row: John Davis, Camron Howell, Pat Geare and Jerry Huff
Back Row: Erik Nielsen, Chris Kessler, Michael Wog II, Matt Bergstrom, Dalen Linnerson and Paul Welle
Not pictured: Anthony Bagneschi and Skyler Hong
(Scottsdale, Ariz.)–December 3, 2009—-It was 1983.
Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. The SKINS Game made its debut at Desert Highlands Golf Club in North Scottsdale with Gary Player beating Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson.
Dave Engelking was in his third year as executive director of the Southwest Section PGA (SWSPGA). The organization had just over 100 members and two staffers.
Blue prints for Desert Mountain and Ventana Canyon were being finalized and Troon Country Club was two to three years away from being built. And some of the men playing in the Goldwater Cup Matches were not even born yet, or enrolled in preschool.
That was also the last time an amateur team representing the Arizona Golf Association (AGA) had hoisted the Goldwater Cup trophy.
Instead, the amateurs watched their counterparts from the Southwest Section PGA prevail year-in and year-out for two-and-a-half decades, winning the two-day (Four-Ball, Foursome and singles matches) competition mostly in dominating style.
That streak is now over, ended at 25 as the AGA won a tightly-contested match at Pinnacle Peak Country Club in North Scottsdale.
Just like last year, the 49th Annual Goldwater Cup Matches came down to the final two singles matches.
But, unlike a year ago, a talented group of amateur golfers proved to be the better in the end.
In singles play the AGA squad tied the club professionals from the Southwest Section PGA six to six.
That margin proved to be just enough as the AGA won 15.5 to 14.5 overall to win the Open division. The SWSPGA leads the overall series 35-14.
The club pro’s prevailed in the Senior division 16-14 and lead that series 23-10-3.
In the penultimate singles match, amateur Chris Kessler halved a point with Jeff Yurkiewicz to tie the score at 14.5. That meant amateur Matthew Bergstrom from Tucson, playing in his first Goldwater Cup, needed to beat veteran club pro Don Yrene in the final singles match to snatch the Goldwater Cup from the SWSPGA.
Bergstom, 36, who plays out of The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain, won 3&2.
“It was close,” Bergstrom said. “He was 1up at the turn. It was a good thing I didn’t know it was the deciding match. But it was an honor to be the anchor.”
Bergstrom, a former professional golfer, knows pressure. A real estate investor who made a lot of money from 2003 to 2006, and was a member at The Gallery Golf Club, Bergstrom fell on hard times. “I lost it all,” he said. “My best quote is: I was a member at The Gallery in 2007-2008 then worked as a caddie at the Ritz Carlton in 2009.”
For AGA captain Michael Wog II of Scottsdale, beating the SWSPGA was redemption. “It’s huge,” Wog said. “It’s cool for the guys like Erik Nielson (Tucson) who have been out here for a long time and it’s cool for me because of all the work I’ve put in. We put a lot of effort into getting our best guys out here.”
A year ago, club professional Dean Vomacka closed out Wog II 3&1 at Mesa Country Club to seal the SWSPGA’s one-point win in singles play and narrow overall victory. This time Wog beat Brandon Smith 1up in singles play. “Last year we only lost by a point,” Wog said. “We tied singles this year (after leading 9.5 to 8.5 after day one). If I had won last year in singles we would have flipped it (the result).”
Wog took it upon himself to snap the quarter century streak in North Scottsdale, beating Smith in singles and earning two more points in Four-Ball and Foursome matches. Chris Kessler, Jerry Huff and Patrick Geare also turned in stellar performances for the AGA.
Mike Wright, president of the Southwest Section PGA, who competed in the Senior division, said the format of the competition was altered slightly in 2009 with Senior division players paired with Open division players in the Four-Ball (best ball) matches. It was the first time the Seniors played 36 holes the first day.
Committee members and officers from the AGA and SWSPGA made a mutual decision.
The AGA team led 7-5 in both divisions after the Four-Ball competition. The AGA led 9.5 to 8.5 in the Open division and the score was tied at nine in the Senior division after the Four-Ball and Foursome matches.
“They have good players and we have good players,” Wright said. “We shouldn’t dominate. Mr. Goldwater would have loved this result.”
The event is named for the late Bob Goldwater Sr., a former state amateur champion and Arizona Golf Hall of Famer who is known as father of the Phoenix (FBR) Open.