Three-time champ Sowards opens with easy victory at PGA Match Play

By Craig Dolch
Published on
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (Feb. 9, 2016) – Three-time winner Bob Sowards wasn’t thrilled to have to play close friend Brett Melton in Tuesday’s first-round of the 53rd PGA Match Play Championship at PGA Golf Club. 
You can imagine how Melton must have felt.
Sowards birdied four of his first seven holes on the Dye Course to take a commanding 3-up lead and cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over his pal.
“I played as good as I could play,” said Sowards, the PGA Teaching Professional from New Albany Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. “He (Melton) didn’t play bad. He probably would have beat most people in the field. He’s my traveling buddy and it was unfortunate we had to play against each other in the first round.”
Sowards – who won the Match Play in 2005, 2012 and 2013 – is on a roll. He won last week’s PGA Stroke Play Championship for the fifth time. He’s trying to become the first player to win the Match Play four times (Rick Schuller also won three).
“On the Dye Course, you can’t afford to miss greens, because it’s difficult to chip on them,” Sowards said. “My strategy is to play pretty conservative and aim for the middle of the green. I don’t want to give holes away.” 
Sowards plays No. 15 J.C. Anderson in a second-round match Wednesday. Anderson defeated No. 50 Chip Johnson, 1-up.
Brothers Jerry Tucker and Michael Tucker each won their first-round match. Jerry Tucker, the 1999 PGA Match Play champion, beat Joshua Fritz, 6-and-5. Michael Tucker advanced with a 4-and-3 victory over Matt Zdon. They wouldn’t meet until Friday’s championship match.
“I hope we play each other,” said Jerry Tucker, smiling.
All of the top 10 seeds won Tuesday.
One of Wednesday’s showcase matches is No. 2 Jeff Sorenson versus No. 31 Rob McClellan, the 2014 Match Play champ. They each won easily Tuesday – Sorenson 7-and-6 over Jeff Wibben and McClellan 6-and-5 over Mike Paukovits.
Defending champion Adam Rainaud, who received a first-round bye, plays Mitchell Camp in the second round. Camp won his match by default.
First prize is $5,000.
The Match Play Championship is the final event of the PGA Winter Championship season sponsored by Premier Golf and Golf Advisor.
Tuesday’s Round of 64 results from the 53rd PGA Match Play Championship on the 7,053-yard Dye Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.:
No. 1 Adam Rainaud advanced in a bye.
No. 32 Mitchell Camp def. No. 33 Charles Meola by default.
No. 16 Scott Berliner def. No 49 Patrick Massi, 3-and-2.
No. 17 Rob Corcoran def. No. 48 Bernie Quinn, 9-and-7.
No. 8 Troy Pare def. No. 57 Kammy Maxfeldt, 3-and-2.
No. 25 Mark Summerville def. No. 40 David Morano, 5-and-4.
No. 9 Frank Dully def. No. 56 Rob Gick, 4-and-3.
No. 24 James Giampaolo def. No. 41 Kevin Savage, 2-and-1.
No. 2 Jeff Sorenson def. No. 63 Jeff Wibben, 7-and-6.
No. 31 Rob McClellan def. Mike Paukovits, 6-and-5.
No. 15 J.C. Anderson def. Chip Johnson, 1-up.
No. 47 Bob Sowards def. No. 18 Brett Melton, 4-and-3.
No. 7 Wyatt Worthington def. No. 58 Matthew McAdow, 2-up.
No. 26 Kirk Hanefield def. No. 39 Geoff Montross, 5-and-4.
No. 10 Michael Tucker def. No. 55 Matt Zdon, 4-and-3.
No. 42 Gregory McClimans def. No. 23 Shawn Warren, 2-up.
No. 3 Kirk Stauffer def. No. 62 David Reasoner, 3-and-1.
No. 30 Tim Puetz def. No. 35 Kyle Baehler, 4-and-3.
No. 51 Kimmel Husband def. No. 14 Earl Cooper, 3-and-2.
No. 19 Roy Vucinich def. No. 46 Kevin Ausserlechner, 6-and-5.
No. 6 Rich Berberian def. No. 59 Jeb Boyle, 2-and-1.
No. 38 Ryan Kalista def. No. 27 Kyle Higgins, 2-up.
No. 54 Justin Pollock def. No. 11 Shane Powers, 1-up.
No. 22 Dakun Chang def. No. 43 Brandt Parker, 3-and-2.
No. 4 Jonathan Mansfield def. No. 61 Gary Trivisonno, 4-and-3.
No. 36 David Yokitis def. No. 29 Gregg Richbourg, 1-up.
No. 52 Joe Kern def. No. 13 Dwayne Randall, 2-up.
No. 20 Jerry Tucker def. No. 45 Joshua Fritz, 6-and-5.
No. 60 Matt Noel def. No. 60 Mike Martin by concession.
No. 37 Pete Catanzaro def. No. 28 Jason Piuroski, 1-up.
No. 12 Jeff Wells def. No. 53 Brian Cairns, 1-up.
No. 44 Joshua Rackley def. No. 21 Mark Anderson, 4-and-3.