Matt Male Wins 2021 U.S. Open in Florida
11 Apr 2021 at 13:16 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 575 | News search
Matt Male - 2021 U.S. Open Winner (Photo by Frank Bisesi)
Cape Coral, FL - On the heels of having to cancel the 2020 U.S. Open, the United States Pro Minigolf Association (USPMGA) had to adjust the 2021 edition due to ongoing expected Covid-19 regulations. Putt U in Pennsylvania was originally slated to hold the event in May, but canceled due to uncertainty around player travel and business sponsorship. As a result, the owners of Mr. Putty’s in South Carolina, home of the 2019 U.S. Open, stepped in to host the event at the sister course Gator Mikes in Florida and moved the event up to early April. However, with the change of venue and timing, attendance this year shrunk to only 33 participants. » Final Results
This year’s event was a seven round, two-day event with the first four rounds held on Friday morning. The expectations from the pros were that scores at, or just below, 36 would be fighting for the top spots and that was seen in those first four rounds. However, the tournament, missing some of the past winners and contenders the top of the board, brought a bit of a surprise after day 1. Brent Werling, a Putt Putter from Indiana, strung three 34’s together to start the day and slipped only a stroke in the 4th round to squeak to a lead of one-stroke after day one with a 137. The field wasn’t going to let him run away with it though as only 5 strokes separated Brent from 10th place. Closest on his heels were faces many have seen on Team USA Gary Hester and Brian Johnson, both tied with a 138.
On day 2 the tide turned against Brent and it was a battle to stay afloat. While three consecutive par rounds of 36 are nothing to be ashamed about, it wasn't enough to push back the swell of some of the other players. The big push was by Matt Male who, with a 32 in the 6th round, rose up to have tenuous lead going into the final round of the day. Hester would keep his eyes on the top spot and the two of them would battle it out in the final round with another Team USA member, Rick Baird and 2018 U.S. Open winner Rainey Statum charging as well. There were great attempts but Male, who started day 1 of the tournament with a flat tire on the way to the course, would hold off the challengers with a 34 and win by two stroke, carding a final 242.
Male, who won the 2015 Master’s tournament, now joined the club of two-major winners. When asked about this impressive feat, Male had this to say, “I’m thrilled and a bit stunned. I led by one entering the final round, but it may well have been the world’s most uncomfortable lead with one round to go, as an incredible amount of players, 15, were within five strokes of me. Gary [Hester] was a very nice partner to have in the final group, and he was so close to winning. He seems to always play well. It was a tough but fun course that seemed to reward patience; it was easy to get on the “deuce train.” I think I once had 19 or 20 consecutive deuces. The putt on 17 (the third-to-last hole since we played hole 19) was a surprising and very welcome ace to get the last round. I didn’t know it at the time, but it gave me a bit of a cushion. I didn’t know my two on the last hole won it for me at the time, but I figured it probably did. As I tapped in, someone told me I won by two. I was just thrilled to somehow land at the top of such a talented field.”
The next major tournament for the USPMGA will be the Master’s on October 5-9, 2021. The 2022 U.S. Open will be held at Mossy Creek in Tennessee.
» USPMGA Website