Kannegieser Defends Match Play Title in Extra Holes
GRAY – For the second straight year, Will Kannegieser made it to the finals of the Maine Match Play Invitational, and for the second straight year he needed extra holes. The end result was the same both years, with the 23-year old from Minot defending his title from last year, defeating Joe Hamilton on the second playoff hole at Spring Meadows.
The match was in Hamilton’s favor early, and he found himself 3 up after four holes after a birdie on 2 and Kannegieser making mistakes on 3 and 4. Those would be the last dropped shots of the day for Kannegieser, as he played flawlessly after that point and didn’t give Hamilton any holes.
The two made the turn with Hamilton 2 up heading to Spring Meadows back nine. Kannegieser won the 10th hole with par to get the match to 1 down. The two exchanged birdies on 12, and Kannegieser added another on 13 to square the match. After pars on 14, Hamilton went for the green in two on the par-5 15th and hit a towering 3-wood to ten feet. After Kannegieser’s birdie putt missed, the eagle was conceded and Hamilton regained a 1 up lead.
After a poor tee shot on 16, Hamilton was unable to save par from the greenside bunker and the match was square again with two to play. Both players hit the 17th green in regulation and two putted from long range to send the match tied going to 18. On 18, both players hit their approach shots to 30 feet and left their birdie putts short of the hole. Kannegieser first holed his 4-footer for par, and Hamilton made his 2-footer to force extra holes.
The match went back to Spring Meadows’ first hole, and Kannegieser hit an iron right down the middle. Hamilton then pulled his tee shot way left onto the adjacent first fairway. Faced with a long and blind second shot to the green, he hit a 5-wood to the front of the green to force Kannegieser’s hand. The resulting shot was 25 feet from the hole, and both players two-putted for par to extend the match.
On the second playoff hole, both players hit the fairway and hit solid wedges in to six feet. Putting first, Kannegieser rolled in his breaking putt and let out a fist pump in excitement. Hamilton hit a beautiful putt to follow, but it was a touch high and spun out off the lip to decide the event.
Kannegieser becomes the first player in the Match Play to defend his title, and also becomes the first player in event history to win the title more than once. He has now won his last ten matches in this event, proving himself to be the man to beat in match play in Maine.