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Norgaard: ‘The Section Match Play Championship has to be the top victory I have had’

September 24, 2015

Matt Norgaard of Somerby GC had a chance to reflect on his victory at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club (Lakeville, MN) in the 2015 Minnesota PGA Match Play Championship. The nearly week long event was filled with unpredictable weather and less than ideal course conditions but that did not hinder Norgaard’s mindset or focus. This was a match play format featuring 37 players who were seeded according to last year’s Player of the Year Rankings with the exception of the defending champion receiving the top seed. It is a six round event that is three days long with 18 Hole matches in the morning and afternoon contingent on weather. Unfortunately, with the conditions we had this year, the Match Play championship lasted four days because of multiple weather delays.

Norgaard, the ninth seed in the tournament, had a first round bye along with the other top 27 seeds. After that he faced the 24th seeded Matt Vandelac in the second round winning 7&6 comfortably, and 25th seeded Brad Pluth in the third round also advancing 4&3. From the fourth round and beyond, Norgaard’s matches would intensify and be anything but a walk in the park for the former two-time Assistants’ Section Player of the Year (2004, 2008). His last three match-ups were against familiar names in Eddie Wynne, Brent Snyder, and Don Berry; “Eddie, Brent, and Don’s playing records in the Match Play have been very good as all three have won the event (Eddie & Brent – twice) and Don – 5 times,” said Norgaard.

His quarterfinal match-up was against defending champion and last year’s Section Player of the Year runner-up Eddie Wynne of University GC. The match proved to be as tough as advertised for Norgaard, but he prevailed on the first playoff hole; “I made a 50 foot putt at the right time.”

In the semifinals, it did not get any easier with Brent Snyder, a participant in this year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, awaiting Mr. Norgaard. This match was delayed four hours after there was an excessive amount of rain and severe weather on what was supposed to be the last day of the tournament.

This was not the only delay in the match as there was another stoppage on the 17th hole with both on their second shots, but this delay may have helped more than hurt Norgaard. “Having the opportunity to think about it for a few hours, I decided to hit a safer shot that would keep me in the hole. It turned out to be the correct decision as I was able to get up and down for par to halve the hole and keep the match all square headed to the 18th hole.” Both players had birdie putts on 18 with Snyder missing his 10-foot putt first, and Norgaard who had a similar line, nailed the 6-foot putt to earn his spot in the championship match.

His storied tournament run had one more obstacle in the way, last year and likely this year’s Section Player of the Year Don Berry,  who was as motivated as ever to win this tournament considering his three consecutive championship match losses in as many years. The match began in the afternoon after the semifinal matches concluded, but the starting time was very late due to previous delays. Norgaard had experienced some struggles with his driver in previous matches causing him to be hesitant with it until later in the match, “I didn’t hit the driver until the par 5 14th hole. I hit a good drive in the fairway that allowed me to get my second shot on the green. That birdie gave me a 1 up lead as we had to suspend play due to darkness.”

They resumed play the next day, and Norgaard’s momentum and one shot lead did not last long, “Don chipped-in on the 15th hole to square the match,” he recalled. The score would remain square after Berry bogeyed the 18th. On the first playoff hole, Norgaard caught his big break he had been looking for after his two putt for par; “Don came up just short of the green on his approach and chipped up to 5 feet. After making these putts routinely throughout the match, this one just missed.” This clinched Norgaard’s first major Section Title Victory in dramatic fashion.

The Section Match Play Championship has to be the top victory I have had in my career.

As for what this does for his confidence going forward, “I was able to hit a lot of good shots at important times in the matches, my short game was especially good. I hope to finish this season strong with just a couple events remaining and keep it going into next spring. This is a huge confidence builder going forward,” he emphasized. Look to hear more from this name in the future after an important break-through in the Match Play Championship against the state’s finest golfers.

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

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