78th ANNUAL JM MEDIA GROUP BC MATCH PLAY
Presented by GLOBAL BC
Sept.15th – Oct.15th, 2023
“CHILLIWACK’S SINNOTT and GUDMUNDSON TAKE 78TH BC MATCH PLAY TITLE at VANCOUVER GOLF CLUB”
Call it fate or destiny, but the stars were definitely in line for the pairing of Nigel Sinnott and Matt Gudmundson of Chilliwack at the 78th running of the BC Match Play this past weekend. The two-some from Chilliwack, BC had formed a partnership in the tournament 5-years ago, and was re-ignited by a last minute email from Sinnott in search for a partner just days before the qualifying date. I guess you could say it was the most timely of replies from Gudmundson, who decided to give it one more try as Sinnott’s partner in this year’s Championship.
The Chilliwack duo worked their way through the qualifying weekend into a decent seeing (8th) and would easily roll through the first two rounds of the match play with 5&3 and 3&2 victories. Their run would continue, albeit somewhat more challenging matches in the Quarter-finals, edging Bryan Bessant & Kevin Barbisan 1 up at Vancouver Golf Club and then facing their toughest match to date in the Meadow Gardens Golf Club pairing of Curtis Baldwin & Mark Heinrich that went to the 21st hole before they were declared winners.
FINALS MATCH – SUNDAY, OCT.15th @ VANCOUVER GOLF CLUB
The 8th seeded team of Matt Gudmundson & Nigel Sinnott had their hands full this past Sunday, going head-to-head with the #2 seeds Ilirian Zalli & Neil MacLeod (Fraserview) who arguably were the strongest team throughout the competition. The Fraserview team asserted themselves early in the tournament by taking the top qualifying spot and earning one of only 3 byes in the first round.
In the following 2 rounds they handled their matches with ease, winning decidedly with 5&3 results in both matches. When they reached the semi-finals, however, they would face a formidable team of Mike Aizawa of Richmond Country Club (3x VGT Amateur Order of Merit winner) & one of Marine Drive Golf Club’s longest players Trevor Yu (who has been journeying thru mini tours & Monday Q’s on PGA Tour Canada these past 2 years). Although a much closer match than their first 2 rounds, Zalli and MacLeod handed Aizawa and Yu a decisive 3&2 win on their way to the finals.
The final 3 rounds of this year’s BC MATCH PLAY were held at the illustrious VANCOUVER GOLF CLUB, in wonderful condition for all competitors. With both teams getting familiar with the layout and contours of VGC’s difficult greens, we would have expected to see some early birdies from both sides. However, there were some early nerves showing on both teams, both parring the relatively straight forward first hole. And more nerves showing from Zalli and MacLeod when they both 3-putted for bogey on #2, resulting in an early lead for Gudmundson and Sinnott.
The difficult 3rd par 3 was parred by both sides, and the uphill 4th was the first of a number of birdie attempts from Zalli that would fall short. The hole was tied with pars after Zalli’s 10-footer for birdie lipped out. Still no fireworks after the 5th hole, with Gudmundson having the best look for birdie, from 10 feet under the hole, but narrowly missing. All pars and Guddy/Sinnott remainded 1 up thru 5.
The 6th hole at Vancouver Golf Club is a beautiful & long (600y) downhill par 5, so birdies were expected from both teams, and they were! Zalli pitched his 3rd shot to 10 feet for birdie and then both Gudmundson and Sinnott hit lovely pitches from 40 yards to inside 3 feet and were conceded their putts. Zalli was then forced to convert his birdie putt from 10 feet to stay within one shot, and he did!
Onto the 7th, uphill par 3, Gudmundson & Zalli would hit the closest shots of the four to about 15 feet, and both teams would walk off with team pars. The match remained 1 up for Team Chilliwack.
After four drives down the middle on the 8th, all four players hit the green in regulation with Zalli the closest at 5 feet away. First three players would 2-putt for their pars, and Zalli would bury his birdie for the win to tie the match again.
The 9th hole was almost a carbon copy of the 8th with all players on the putting surface in regulation and Zalli in the closest at 4 feet away After all 3 players missed their birdie putts, Zalli stepped up confidently and nailed his 4-footer for the win. They would reach the turn 1 up over Gudmundson & Sinnott.
The 10th is a reachable and very scoreable par 5 hole for all four players. After MacLeod pitched out of the trees and forced to lay up, Gudmundson then got his 2nd within 40 yards of the green, while Zalli managed to hit a great shot to the very front of the green in two, some 50 feet for eagle. Sinnott’s second came just short of the green where he would be chipping from 60 feet away.
With MacLeod in for a lengthy 2-putt par, Gudmundson pitched his 40y shot up to 20 feet, while his partner chipped slightly closer to within 10 feet for birdie. When Zalli’s putt got to within gimme range, the pressure was now on for one of the Chilliwack pair to make their birdie putt from 20′ or 10′, or they would go 2-down. So Gudmundson took dead aim with his 20 footer and stroked it confidently to the back of the hole to keep the match 1 up Zalli & MacLeod. A pivotal putt.
On the 11th hole par 4, Gudmundson continued to perform with two beautiful shots to gimme range for the birdie. Zalli and MacLeod both missed the green and were forced to hole one of their chip shots for the tie, but neither capitalized. The match was tied again!
The downhill 12th par 3, all players managed to hit the 180 yard in regulation, with MacLeod and Gudmundson both in close around 12 feet for birdie. MacLeod would have first attempt at the birdie, but just failed to capitalize, opening the door for Goody. But he also missed and the match remained tied thru 12 holes.
On the 13th par 5, it came down to the short games of all players around the green to decide this hole. MacLeod wedged his 3rd into 30 feet first, then Sinnott pitched from about 20 yards out to within 20 feet. Gudmundson’s second managed to chase just up on the fringe of the green, leaving him a good 40 feet of green to traverse. He would do well to leave himself 5 feet for his birdie. Zalli hit a beautiful long iron approach to within 25 feet of the pin for his eagle.
With Gudmundson in around 5 feet away, Zalli stroked his 25 footer up and across the slope, but miss-judged his pace and left it 3-4 feet short. Gudmundson converted his putt from 5 feet, and now Zalli needed his 4 footer for the half. But he failed to convert. So the match swung back to one-up Gudmundson & Sinnott with 5 to go.
On the 14th hole, with Gudmundson draining a 20 footer for par, Sinnott narrowly missed his own 18 footer for birdie and tapped in for par. MacLeod made a valiant effort at his 35 footer across the green and tapped in for par. And Zalli had the shortest attempt from 12 feet uphill for his birdie, but he would gun it by the hole leaving Gudmundson/Sinnott one up with 4 to play.
Running out of holes, Zalli and MacLeod needed a win. All but Zalli would find the fairway on the narrow 15th par 4 hole, but it was Zalli who would would hit the most impressive shot from under the trees, punching his 140 yard shot beautifully to within 10 feet of the stick! Sinnott and MacLeod both had about 15-20 feet for their birdies, and Gudmundson at the back portion of the green around 35 feet away. He would play first and look to secure his par so his partner could have a good run at his 15 footer. But he didn’t do that. He did one better, nailing his bomb from 35 feet for the birdie!!
Pressure now on MacLeod and Zalli. MacLeod would play first, and narrowly miss his 18 foot attempt. So all pressure lay on the 2022 Vancouver Open Champion & Fraserview player as he stared down his 10 foot uphill birdie putt. Make it and they were still only one down. Miss it and the task would be heavy with only 3 to play and 2 back. He took the putter back and stroked the ball up the hill, but would leave his putt out to the right, meaning loss of hole and now 2 down with 3 to play.
All four players navigate their tee-shots well off the sharp right to left dogleg16th, and manage to reach the green in regulation, all players with 20-30 footers for their birdies.
Sinnott would lag his up to 3 feet, but not needed when Gudmundson rolled his 6 footer for par in the side door. Zalli left his birdie try surprisingly short and would lip out his par attempt. MacLeod kept them in the match with a 5 footer for par and the match went down 17 with Sinnott / Gudmundson 2 up.
Gudmundson and Sinnott both kept it in play off the tee, but Sinnott hit it heavy and would fail to get it up and down for his par. All eyes were on Zalli and MacLeod with their birdie tries to keep this match live. But first it was Gudmundson from 30 feet. If this goes in, the match is over. And he nearly did just that, narrowly missing and tapping in for par.
With Zalli hitting a clutch iron shot into just 6 feet, it looked like we were heading down the 18th fairway for a dramatic conclusion to this match. But as he had done a few times on this day, Zalli missed his short attempt at birdie, and Nigel Sinnott and Matt Gudmundson were crowned 2&1 Winners and Champions of the 78th JM MEDIA BC MATCH PLAY. Their consistent play over the 4 weeks of the tournament earned them a Team cheque of $4,000 ($2k/each).
In the NET competition of the 2023 JM MEDIA BC Match Play, it was a close battle all day with the NET match tied right thru the end of the15th hole. And it took some very consistent play on 16 and 17 from the eventual winners to decide the Champions. And eventually it was the duo of Kelly Wong and Jordan Jorgenson who outplayed their opponents and were declared the NET Champions with a 2&1 win over Matthew Sproule and Steve Watson. Our Net Champions both earned a $1,000.00 VGT Gift Card for their win, while our Runners-up both earned a $600 Gift Card. All quarter-finalists and semi-finalists earned a portion of the $7,000 in Amateur Prize Pool!
On behalf of the Vancouver Golf Tour I would like to congratulate all players for playing their way into the prizing this year, and in particular to our 2023 Champions Matt Gudmundson & Nigel Sinnott (OPEN) and Kelly Wong & Jordan Jorgenson (NET).
A final few thank-you’s before we wrap up this year’s BC Match Play. A very special thank-you to both our Title Sponsor JM MEDIA GROUP and Presenting Sponsor GLOBAL BC for allowing us to promote the 78th Annual event to half a million viewers on the GLOBAL BC Weekend Tee segments with Jay Janower.
A second set of thank-you’s go out to all of our BC Match Play host courses for giving our players an amazing tournament experience, in particular to the Vancouver Golf Club for hosting our final three rounds of the Match Play on their historic layout. What an experience for this year’s competitors!!
One final thank-you to all of our volunteers and core VGT team members for their time given throughout the 4-weeks of the tournament. There are many roles to fill, from registration to starting, hole spotting and timing to walking scoring for our final groups for the online audience. Thank-you all for making this year’s event possible!!!
Congratulations again to our winners! We look forward to announcing the schedule for the 79th Anniversary BC Match Play later this year!
President & Commissioner
Vancouver Golf Tour
BC Match Play Committee