Vershure Victorious in Match Play Championship


PGA of AmericaPORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Rick Vershure of Armonk, N.Y. broke open a tight match by winning the 13th and 14th holes Monday to claim the 40th annual PGA Match Play Championship at the PGA Golf Club.
The 2-and-1 victory over Bob Ralston of Little Rock, Ark., on the Dye course gave Vershure a record third Match Play title.
'Down the road, this one may become more special than the first two,' said Vershure, head professional at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y. 'After you turn 50, you never know how many more chances you'll have to lift a trophy.'
Vershure, who turned 50 two weeks ago, previously won the Match Play in 1990 and 1993, both times beating Larry Rentz in the finals on the Champion course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
Previous two-time winners of the Match Play, all in consecutive years, were Bob Brue, Milwaukee, Wis.,1975-76, at Walt Disney World; and Lonnie Nielsen, East Aurora, N.Y., 1987-88, and Gene George, West Palm Beach, 1996-97, both at PGA National.
Vershure earned $4,500 from the $52,130 purse, Ralston $2,800.
Ralston, 53, who has Life Member status with the PGA of America, left immediately after congratulating Vershure on the 17th green. He was hoping to make a 12:10 PM starting time at the Country Club of Miami in qualifying for the Royal Caribbean Senior Classic later this week at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.
After making the finals Sunday afternoon, Vershure had canceled his morning starting time Monday.
The championship match got off to a shaky start. Ralston pulled his first tee shot out of bounds and after Vershure put his first ball in the fairway, Ralston conceded the hole. Vershure gave it back at the second when he hit his second shot into an environmentally sensitive area and had to take a penalty drop, losing the hole with a double bogey to Ralston's two-putt bogey.
They halved the next five holes with pars before Ralston made his only birdie of the match, sinking a six footer at the eighth hole. But he bogied the ninth, missing another six footer for par, and the match was even at the turn.
Vershure got his only birdie at the par-3 13th, an eight footer that Ralston conceded after missing the green and chipping short with his second shot. Vershure also won the par-4 14th. Both players missed the green in two, Vershure chipped close and Ralston missed a five footer for par.
They halved the short 16th with bogies and the match ended when both two-putted for pars at the long 17th. Ralston hit his second shot through the green with a baseball-type swing after his tee shot stopped in thick grass on the upper edge of a fairway bunker.
'Neither one of us played particularly well,' acknowledged Vershure, winner of the New York State PGA Championship last summer. 'We started a little shaky and finished a little shaky, but it's not easy trying to win eight matches in eight days.'
Including concessions, Vershure was two over par, Ralston about five over.
Monday's results:
Rick Vershure, Armonk, N.Y., d. Bob Ralston, Little Rock, Ark., 2 and 1. Vershure, $4,500; Ralston, $2,800.