2016 has been a great year for the AAA series with a record number of participants, The AAA Match Play Championship was no different. 39 players registered this year in hopes of proving their metal and etching their name in history! Three months of matches provided a few upsets but as it usually does, the cream of the crop rose to the top! The Semi-final matches included three of the top four seeds from this year’s bracket; (1) Kenny Pigman, PGA reigning AAA POY and AAA Match Play Champion; (2) Raj Samra, (4) Bobby Nickell, and (14) Colin Tucker, PGA. They arrived at Palos Verdes Golf Club Thursday, August 18th with just two more opponents between them and the coveted title!
The first match out was Raj Samra of Friendly Hills Country Club gainst Colin Tucker, PGA of the Vintage Club. Raj jumped out to an early lead, 2up through four, despite being two over par. Unfortunately for Colin, Raj was just getting warmed up and would proceed to birdie six of his next 10 holes to close out Tucker 5&4. The match was much closer than it showed however with a lot of good shots by both players; the difference here was a new custom Scotty Cameron putter which clearly Raj had a lot of confidence in as putts were dropping from everywhere!
The other semi-final match required a few more holes as Kenny Pigman, PGA and Bobby Nickell battled back and forth. The match was very even on the front side as each player struggled to make any birdies, both shooting one over on their opening nine and the lone birdie coming on nine from Bobby Nickell to square the match as they made the turn. Pigman won holes 11 and 12 and looked to be in control, however a wayward drive on 14th put Bobby right back in the match. Nickell would win with a par and after Kenny three putted the 15th, the match was all square! The reigning AAA Match Play Champion rebounded in resounding fashion as he blasted a drive up the hill on the par 5 16th, found the green in two and rolled in a curling 30 foot putt up the hill for eagle to regain control of the match. A three putt from Bobby at the 17th would setup a rematch of last year’s AAA Match Play Championship.
Kenny came out firing, birdieing the first hole to take the early lead. However, bogeys on the next two would put Raj up through three. Kenny then birdied the fifth to square up the match again. Unfortunately for Raj, that very putter that was so hot during his semi-final match against Colin, cooled off significantly in the championship match! Pigman applied the pressure shooting two under through his final twelve holes which Raj was unable to match. Samra made one final surge to keep the match alive as he rolled in 20 foot putt or birdie on 16, requiring Kenny to get up and down from the green side bunker for birdie to close the match. As champions do, Kenny calmly stood over his five foot birdie putt and knocked it confidently in the back of the cup to successfully defend his AAA Match Play Championship title! Congratulations Kenny Pigman, PGA!
As with every event, the support of our Partners and the host facilities is vital. Thank you to presenting partner Maui Jim who provided sunglasses to each of the semi-finalists. Thank you as well to host PGA Director of Golf Jim Gormley and the entire Palos Verdes Golf Club staff for their hospitality and support. The AAA series wraps up next month, Thursday September 22nd at Via Verde Country Club before the Championship October 18th at The Crosby.