The field at the 2015 World Hickory Match Play Championship
The official festivities started with Brian Schuman, chairman, presenting the 2014 Champion, Jeremy Moe with the perpetual trophy, which now has his name engraved on it (photo below).
The highlight of the Champions Dinner evening was the very emotional presentation of the Old Tom Morris Award. Last year’s recipient, Lionel Freedman, sent a moving video with him congratulating this year’s recipient, Mike Just.
Mike, who has been battling cancer, was unable to travel from Louisville to Philly, per doctor’s orders, also sent a very moving video accepting the award and expressing his thoughts on what makes hickory golf so special.
Results of the first three rounds of matches.
The morning started with some cool, overcast weather, with a touch of fog. The venue, of course, is the historic 9-hole St. Martins course at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the site of the 1907 and 1910 U.S. Opens. Willie Anderson, the first four-time winner of the U.S. Open, was the head professional at the club during those years.
Tony Deroba, today’s head professional at the St. Martins course, did the honors of the ceremonial first tee shot, officially starting the 2015 World Hickory Match Play Championship.
Promptly at 8 a.m., the first matches in the Champions Divisions teed off, with subsequent matches following for round 1. Round 2 matches immediately followed round 1, with excellent play by some of the top players in the world of hickory golf.
After a nice lunch, the round 3 matches were started under more sunny, and breezy conditions.
Playing the St. Martins course is truly taking a step back into the early days of hickory golf in America. As players walk the fairways, it is easy to picture what the scene must have been like for those championships.
Fairways and greens are a must to win a hole here, as the fairway rough, and in particular, the green side rough, is very penal, and usually results in bogey or worse. The smaller greens require precise approach shots, presenting players with a proper challenge, worthy of a world-class championship.
Answering the challenge with vigor on day one in the Champions Division were Clif Martin, Ben Hollerbach, and defending champion Jeremy Moe. All three players exhibited exquisite shot-making and superb control of their games, wearing their opponents down in the first three matches.
Stellar play was also shown in the Players Division by Bill Geisler, Bill Conant, and Bill Wardwell. The three Bills set themselves up in great position to advance to the final matches on Wednesday afternoon.
The rest of the field in both divisions have some catching up to do, and will need to step up their level of play to have a chance to get themselves in the finals during the round 4 & 5 matches Wednesday morning.
Players and guests were rewarded with a great BBQ dinner, overlooking the grass tennis courts at the Cricket Club, making a great setting to relax with old and new hickory friends, share some adult beverages and stories of stymies made and missed.
The second day of action promises to produce a very worthy World Hickory Match Play Champion.
The first tee at the St. Martins Course of the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
Mike Stevens, left, and Brian Schuman welcome players to the 2015 WHMP.
Rick Woeckener, left, and Mike Stevens prepare for a practice round.
Brian Schuman, WHMP founder, presents Jeremy Moe, the 2014 champion with the tournament’s permanent trophy.
Day One Champion Division results.
Day One Player’s Division results.