Major Changes

New era set to begin for CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play, with the two being held concurrently and at the same sites next week, culminating at Colorado Golf Club; round-robin pod play set for CommonGround

By Gary Baines – 6/5/2021

Two CGA championships held concurrently. Two courses. Two genders. Rare Saturday finishes.

That’s what awaits next week as the CGA Match Play and CGA Women’s Match Play — the association’s two oldest championships — are teeing it up at the same sites on the same days and crowning champions on the same date — next Saturday, June 12.

This marks a new plan for the two events, with changes also including utilizing round-robin pod play before the knockout stages commence. So everyone who qualifies for the events will be guaranteed three matches.

The five days of competition run Monday through Wednesday, then Friday and Saturday. The Monday through Wednesday portion will take place at CGA-owned CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, then the quarterfinals and semifinals (Friday) and the 36-hole finals (Saturday) will be held at Colorado Golf Club in Parker. Thursday is being held open for optional practice rounds at Colorado Golf Club for the two sets for eight quarterfinalists.

Those who advance to the championship finals of the men’s Match Play will compete in seven matches — one more than in past years.

Since the men’s Match Play starts with a field of 64 — vs. 32 for the Women’s Match Play — there will be a round-of-16 knockout match on Wednesday afternoon at CommonGround where the winners of each pod will compete for the right to advance to the quarterfinals at Colorado Golf Club.

Colorado Golf Club has hosted a Senior PGA Championship, a Solheim Cup and a U.S. Mid-Amateur in the last 11-plus years. Both the Solheim Cup and the Mid-Am are match-play events.

The CGA’s hope is that the site for the final three rounds of the match play championships will rotate year to year among prestigious courses in the state. Meanwhile, the plan calls for CommonGround to be the pod-play host each year for the men’s CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play. 

The changes that occur next week come a year after the CGA Senior Match Play, held at Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor in 2020, served as a pilot of sorts as it adopted a pod-play system very similar to the one used by the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play the PGA Tour conducts. 

Instead of the match-play portion of these CGA championships simply beginning with single-elimination rounds — as was the case in the past — qualifiers are placed in four-person pods (16 pods for the men’s Match Play and eight for the Women’s Match Play). From there, each pod conducts a round robin, with each golfer playing three matches. The person that emerges with the best record from each pod advances to the single-elimination bracket — which includes 16 players for the men’s Match Play and eight for the Women’s Match Play.

In next week’s 121st CGA Match Play, Colin Prater of Cherokee Ridge Golf Course not only will attempt to defend his title, but he’ll seek his third consecutive victory in a CGA men’s major, having swept the Amateur and the Match Play in 2020.

Other past Match Play champions in the field include Josh McLaughlin of the Olde Course at Loveland (2019) and Nick Nosewicz of Meadow Hills Golf Course (2015).

Likewise in the men’s field are 2019 CGA Player of the Year Davis Bryant ; Cal McCoy and Ross Macdonald, Match Play runners-up the past two years; three-time CGA Mid-Amateur champ Chris Thayer; 2021 U.S. Senior Open qualifier Jon Lindstrom; two-time Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Boys Player of the Year Dillon Stewart; 2014 CGA Player of the Year Michael Harrington; along with past CGA major contenders Griffin Barela and Jack Castiglia.

For the men’s Match Play pod assignments, CLICK HERE.

The winner of the CGA Match Play for the next 10 years (2021 through ’30) will receive a medal in honor of Michael Lee, who won the championship a decade ago. Lee passed away at age 28 just before Christmas due to complications from Covid-19. In addition, the association is dedication its 2021 men’s tournament season to Lee’s memory.

In the 106th CGA Women’s Match Play, former University of Colorado golfer Kirsty Hodgkins will not defend her title, but in the field will be Leigha Devine, the Rutgers golfer who played in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open; three players who made the cut in this week’s CoBank Colorado Women’s Open — Caroline Jordaan (University of Denver, 15th-place finish), Lauren Lehigh (University of New Mexico, 36th place) and Kaylee Chen (47th place); and 2020 Women’s Match Play runner-up Erin Houtsma, winner of the 2005 Colorado Women’s Open.

For the Women’s Match Play pod assignments, CLICK HERE.