The drive up to Muscatine, Iowa is long and requires the most attention in the final hour – the Gateway Team found themselves dealing with the same challenge in their Sunday singles matches as a weekend full of hard fought golf became even more difficult in the final hour of the match.
Last year’s Junior Cup did not go the way the Gateway PGA Team intended. While they fought hard they found themselves down by a big margin heading into Sunday. This year the team was determined to have fun and bring home the trophy.
The Junior Cup Match is a team Ryder Cup format event where 16 Gateway PGA Junior Tour players go head to head against 16 Iowa PGA Junior Tour players in a series of partner and singles matches. Day 1 consists of 36 holes, the first 18 being fourball matches and the afternoon being alternate shot. After the morning fourball matches the Gateway team found themselves down 3.5 to 4.5 despite big wins by the first groups of the day, Peyton Cusick and Reese Reinhardt, and Anna Bell and Morgan Nute.
Gateway PGA Junior Tour Lead Jason Eisenhauer was confident in how his Gateway team played in the morning but knew that in alternate shot, “you are never sure of what you’re going to get.” In the alternate shot format, each pair consists of one boy and one girl with the girls teeing off on odd holes and the boys teeing off on even holes. Each team alternates who takes each shot until the ball is holed.
Sending two of his strongest players together in the first alternate shot pairing, Eisenhauer wanted to take the lead away from Iowa right away. Peyton Cusick and Harper Ackerman executed the plan perfectly, winning resoundingly 6 & 5. In the second match, Reese Reinhardt and Benjamin Rich brought home half a point against a tough Iowa pair highlighted by a hole-in-one on the Par-3 11th from Reese!
The older, composed Samuel Ottwell and the younger and energetic Ally Suhre combined to be a good team. Benefitting from Ally’s length, the pair won their match 3 & 1. Timmy Siebenman and Anna Bell won their match and 1 point with Timmy’s driving and Anna’s accurate approaches. As the final alt. shot group entered the clubhouse, the Gateway Team had taken a 1 point lead.
When the matches started Sunday morning, light rain fell on the Junior golfers at Geneva Golf and Country Club. The Gateway team knew there was a lot of golf left to be played and had to show resilience in the early singles matches.
Playing in foursomes (two matches per group), the Gateway team traded matches through the first three groups highlighted by a big comeback from Peyton Cusick. Peyton dropped four of the first seven holes but turned the match around winning the 8th with a big par on the #1 handicapped hole. She followed with three birdies on the back and closed out the match on 16.
Benjamin Rich and Harper Ackerman took the challenge of facing the two strongest players from the Iowa Team, Roman Roth and Braeden Nelson. After bogeying the first hole, Benjamin came back winning the next two holes to take a 1-up lead over Roman Roth. After bogeying the 5th to lose his lead, Benjamin rang off 6 straight pars to keep the match all square. Four more lead changes would take place on the back nine before Benjamin would close out the match 2 & 1 on 17.
Harper Ackerman started his match against Braeden Nelson with two pars to take a 1-up lead but a double on the Par 3 3rd made it all square. Harper never let go of the lead after he regained it on the 185yd. Par 3 5th hole and closed out the match 2 & 1 on 17.
With the lead in hand, the Gateway team needed to win at least one of the matches in the group with Ally Suhre and Morgan Nute. Having played in the same group many times before, Morgan and Ally felt comfortable, that is, until Ally found herself with a chance to win the Cup on 18.
Just long of the green Ally had three strokes to get the ball in the hole to win the match. “I’m going to chunk it into the hill,” Ally said to Jason Eisenhauer as she stood over her chip. After going through her routine she hit a wonderful chip up onto the putting surface. With two putts to clinch the victory, a lag putt up close for a tap-in was all that was needed to win, but a nervy first putt left Ally with an 8-foot tester to win the Cup. Taking her time, Ally sank the comebacker clinching the 2023 Junior Cup Match between the Gateway PGA Junior Team and the Iowa PGA Junior Team.
The Gateway PGA Junior Team would like to extend a big thank you to Geneva Golf and Country Club for hosting. We would also like to thank Blake Newell, Tess Goudy and the Iowa PGA staff for putting together the event! Lastly, thank you University of Nebraska – Lincoln PGA Professional Golf Management for sponsoring the Junior Cup Matches.
Congratulations to the 2023 Gateway PGA Junior Cup Match Team!
Gateway PGA Roster
|Harper Ackermann||Anna Bell|
|Isabella Buckley||Annabelle Bush|
|Peyton Cusick||Ivan Kennedy|
|Sara Kolar||Jake Montgomery|
|Morgan Nute||Samuel Ottwell|
|Mukt Patel||Reese Reinhardt|
|Benjamin Rich||Thomas Shuert|
|Timmy Siebenman||Ally Suhre|