PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rick Schuller of Chester, Va., became the second player to win the PGA Match Play Championship three times when he beat Scott Ford of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 1-up in the finals, Feb. 6, at PGA Golf Club. The PGA Match Play Championship was presented by Premier Golf and United Rentals.
Two down after three holes as Ford won the first and third holes with birdies, Schuller pulled even three times, at 7, 10 and 13, before finally going ahead with a 25-foot par-saving putt at the 15th hole. He followed by closing Ford out by making a 20-foot birdie putt at 18.
Ford's second shot at 18 was within seven feet but he never got a chance to putt. Had Schuller missed, Ford could have pushed the match into extra holes with a birdie. Both players finished at 5-unde-par 67 on the Dye Course.
Schuller, 48, the PGA director of instruction at Swaders Sports Park in Prince George, Va., previously won the PGA Match Play Championship in 2006 and 2009, both on the Dye. The only other three-time winner is Rick Vershure of Armonk, N.Y., with titles in 1990, 1993 and 2003.
"It's a thrill to win this three times," Schuller said. "I didn't know anyone had done it before until just now. It was a grind from the first match last Tuesday until today." After qualifying with 70, he won two matches by a 3 and 2 margin. The other four went to the 18th hole or further.
"It's disappointing not to win when you get this far," said Ford, 41, a PGA assistant professional at North Hills Country Club in Manhasset, N.Y., "but overall it was a good week. I just hit a couple of bad putts there, at 13 and 15." Ford was the qualifying medalist with a 67.
Ford, 41, is a graduate of John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres City, Fla., and Rollins College in Winter Park. His grandfather, Doug Ford Sr., a former PGA and Masters Champion, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May.
The PGA Match Play Championship was the last of six events, which comprised The PGA of America's 58th Winter Championships. The presenting sponsors were Premier Golf and United Rentals, with PGA Village Verano, Golf Pride and PGA Golf Club serving as supporting sponsors.
Schuller received $2,500 from the $26,500 purse. Ford collected $1,800.