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2024 Senior Match-Play Champions Crowned

EASTON, Pa. – Rick Stimmel, the reigning Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Senior Player of the Year from Connoquenessing CC, added yet another top finish to his resume, defeating Heidelberg CC’s Chris Fieger Sr. in 20 holes in the finals of this year’s 17th (Men’s) and 4th (Women’s) Annual Senior Match Play Championships. Stimmel’s win came in the Men’s Senior Bracket, and he adds the victory to a pair of other impressive PA Golf finishes to begin 2024, finishing second overall at the Dressler Memorial Championship two weeks ago and third in the Amateur Division at last week’s Senior Open.

“Anytime you can win it’s exciting,” said Stimmel. “This is a good way to start the year off, second place in the Dressler, then a first place today. So I’m moving in the right direction.”

Stimmel’s opponent in the Senior Bracket finals was Chris Fieger Sr., the No. 7 seed in the bracket, who got past Allegheny CC’s Bob Crnjacrich on Tuesday morning in the semifinals, 5 & 4, to earn a spot in the final match against Stimmel.

“He’s a lot better than a lot of the guys out here,” said Stimmel. “He hit all good shots and Bob Crnjarich, who’s a good friend of mine, said that I was going to have my hands full with this guy.”

Fieger birdied hole No. 2 in the final match to take an early lead while Stimmel countered with birdies on seven, nine, 10, and an eagle on 11. Stimmel was 2-up after the 11th hole but Fieger birdied 13 to cut the lead to one.

“I hoped that I had a big enough cushion, but I didn’t,” said Stimmel. “And I made a bit of a mess of 18. With that big false front, you know you have to get it up top there so I gave it a little extra, and man that thing came out and from 65 yards it went 80 yards and I hit it in the only place you couldn’t hit it, and he hit it within four feet. I knew he was going to make birdie so I figured, well, it was time for a playoff.

Fieger got into heaps of trouble on the second playoff hole, though, while a par from Stimmel was good enough to secure the win.

“Making just a routine par to win was a little bittersweet," said Stimmel. "You hate to see somebody lose that way but I felt like what I did on 18 he did on the playoff hole, so it was tit-for-tat. But I’m really happy about the start to this season.”

It was an underdog story in the Men’s Super-Senior Bracket, with a pair of upsets in the semifinals this morning. No. 13 seed Tom White (Elmhurst CC) took down defending match play champion and No. 1 seed Brian Rothaus (Five Ponds GC) in 20 holes to advance to the final match, while in the other semifinal it was Stonewall’s Larry Martone (the No. 14 seed) besting No. 2 seed Michael Capotis (Kahkwa Club), 2 & 1, to secure his own spot in the finals.

The final match was a back-and-forth battle, with White taking the early lead on hole No. 2 after a Martone bogey. White birdied No. 6 to go 2-up, but bogeyed five of the next seven holes to spot Martone a 1-up advantage after the 13th hole. Martone bogeyed No. 14 to square the match, and another bogey on No. 17 while White carded par moved White back to 1-up. Both golfers proceeded to make bogey on 18 as White held on to become the 2024 Super-Senior Match Play champion.

The Women’s Senior Bracket was won by Lawrence Park GC’s Steph Urban, the No. 5 seed who defeated defending champion Karen Siegel (Commonwealth National GC) in yesterday’s semifinals. Urban matched up with Gulph Mill’s GC’s Missy Wietlisbach, who had upset No. 2 seed and 2023 match play runner up Noreen Mohler (Northampton CC) in Monday’s first round. Urban bested Wietlisbach 3 & 2 in today’s finals.

The Women’s Super-Senior championship was decided using a Threesomes format in which the competitors play individually against each of the other two players over the two-day competition, with point totals for winning the front and back nines and overall match each day being accumulated to choose the champion.

Barbara Pagana (Huntsville GC), who won the Super Senior title in 2022, trailed reigning Super-Senior player of the year Alexandra Frazier (Gulph Mills GC) by .5 points after the first day of play, but rebounded to score a whopping six points on the final day compared to Frazier’s 1.5 as Pagana won her second Super Senior title in three years. Lawrence Park Golf Club’s Gail Heubel finished third with a total of 1.5 points compared to Frazier’s two-day total of six points and Pagana’s 10 points.

Next up on the Pennsylvania Golf Association schedule is the 34th Annual Four-Ball Championship, which begins on Wednesday, June 5 at Toftrees Golf Resort in State College, Pa.

The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of Northampton Country Club for the hospitality shown during the tournament, with additional thanks, as aways, going to DICK’S Sporting Goods for sponsorship of the event.