A field of 32 of the world’s best hickory golf champions are to take part in an inaugural match play event June 16-18 on the St. Martins Course of the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Philadelphia, Penn., USA.
The event, sponsored by the U.S. Hickory Players Club and the Metropolitan Hickory Society, is the result of dinner table conversation between Mike Stevens, Rick Woeckener, and Brian Schuman during last June’s National Hickory Championship at the same venue.
Schuman, founder of the U.S. Hickory Players Club, was instrumental in arranging “The Hickory Cup”, an international match that pitted U.S players vs. players from “the rest of the world” during last year’s World Hickory Open in Carnoustie, Scotland.
“That international match was hugely successful and enjoyed a great deal of news press online as well as on local TV and in newspapers throughout the U.K.,” Schuman said.
That event was the forerunner for the SoHG International Cup, scheduled to be held on the Monifieth G.C. in Scotland this coming October.
Schuman announced the World Hickory Match Play Championship at last year’s World Hickory Open. The field of 32 has been set and the historic Philadelphia Cricket Club, host of the U.S. Open in 1907 and 1910, chosen as the tournament site.
“This is an invitation-only tournament for players who have exhibited a high level of proficiency in, as well as a great love and respect for, the game of hickory golf,” Schuman said. “Qualified players must have either won or have been a runner-up in a major hickory event over the past two years and/or have shown great competence in hickory performance in the very recent past. It may be the most qualified, competitive field in the modern hickory era, particularly in a match-play format.”
The Championship Division comprises 16 players with several major hickory victories to their credit. A second division, the Players Division, will also field 16 competitors and will include several winners and runners-up in reserve divisions at major hickory tournaments. Both divisions will play the tournament at scratch, with no strokes given.
The international field represents three different countries: the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland.
The Champions field will include: Switzerland’s Paolo Quirici, the current World Hickory Open champion and current U.S. Professional Hickory Open champion; Claus Muehlfeit, the 2013 Swiss Hickory Open champion; Michael Ream, 2012 Canadian Hickory Open champion; and the USA’s Jeremy Moe, 2013 U.S. Hickory Open winner and 2013 Mid Pines Hickory Open champion.
Honorary Starter and Official Championship Referee, Lionel Freedman of Scotland, founder of the World Hickory Open, has agreed to be present for this inaugural event.
The tournament format combines a point system with a final 18-hole match play event for the championship.
Each player is to compete in three 9-hole matches the first day of competition and one 9-hole match on the morning of the second day. Scoring for these first four matches will be under a point system. One point for winning a hole and a half point for a tie. All players will play a different player for each of the first four matches. After these four rounds, points will be tallied and the players with the most points will engage in an 18-hole match in the afternoon to determine the champions, runners-up, and third place finishers in each division.
On Monday, the day before the tournament officially begins, the field will be paired in foursomes for an informal 4-Ball event followed by open practice.
Also on this day, a special father-son match will take place. Michael Ream, 2012 Canadian Champion, and his father, Chris Ream, the 2013 Canadian Senior Champion, have agreed to play a match vs. Joe Hollerbach, 2013 Southern 4-Ball Champion and his son, Ben Hollerbach, a recent U.S. Hickory Open Runner-up, in a 4-Ball match on Monday, June 16 at the Cricket Club. The Tournament Committee will award a special trophy for the winners of this Father/Son -Match.
A special formal Champions dinner will be held on Tuesday evening June 17, in the library of the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Invited special guests and speakers include several members as well as the historian from the nearby Merion Golf Club.
The list of accomplishments of the competitors in the inaugural World Hickory Match-Play Championship Division is lengthy one.
Winner- 2012 Canadian Hickory Open Champion – Michael Ream
Winner – 2013 Swiss Hickory Open Champion – Claus Muhlfeit
Winner – 2013 Senior Canadian Champion – Chris Ream
Winner – 2012 C.B. Macdonald Championship – Brian Schuman
Runner-up -2013 C.B. Macdonald Championship – Brian Schuman
Runner-up -2012 Heart of America – Roger Andrews
Winner – 2013 Kummel Cup – Roger Andrews
Winner – 2012 SoHG Championship Series – Roger Andrews
Winner – 2013 SoHG Championship Series – Roger Andrews
Winner – 2013 Mountain Valley Hickory Open – Roger Andrews
Winner – 2012 National Hickory Championship – Mike Stevens
Runner-up -2012 Vermont Hickory Open – Rick Woeckener
Winner – 2012 Mid Pines Hickory Open – Rick Woeckener
Winner – 2013 Mid Pines Hickory Open – Jeremy Moe
Runner-up -2012 Mountain Valley Hickory Open – Jeremy Moe
Winner – 2013 U.S. Hickory Open – Jeremy Moe
Winner – 2013 Vermont Hickory Open – Deal Hudson
Runner-up -2013 Belvedere Hickory Open – Steve Simer
Runner-up -2013 Kummel Cup – Eric Hjortness
Runner-up -2013 Mountain Valley Hickory Open – Ben Hollerbach
Runner-up -2012 U.S. Hickory Open – Ben Hollerbach
Runner-up -2013 U.S. Hickory Open – Craig Stroup
Runner-up -2013 Mid-Pines Hickory Open – Jeff Smith
Winner – 2013 World Hickory Open – Paolo Quirici
Winner – 2013 U.S Professional Hickory Championship – Paolo Quirici
Winner – 2014 U.S Professional Hickory Championship – Paolo Quirici
Winner – 2013 Southern 4-Ball – Joe Hollerbach