Kannegieser Wins Match Play in Extra Holes
CASCO, ME – Leading up to the final match of the 2019 Match Play Invitational, there had been a shockingly low number of matches that needed extra holes to decide a winner this week. With 30 matches having been played at Point Sebago GC in the four preceding rounds, only one match required extra holes. Today’s final added one more to that tally, as the match between Will Kannegieser and Caleb Manuel turned out to be the longest match of the entire event, with Kannegieser making birdie on the 22nd hole to claim the title.
Kannegieser, who plays out of Martindale CC and will begin his senior year at Williams College next week, had been in the finals before, having lost to Matt Hutchins in 2016 in this event. He came into today’s final seeking redemption but was paired against one of the hottest players in Maine in Brunswick GC’s Manuel.
The rising senior at Mt. Ararat High School was fresh off a big win at the AJGA Coca-Cola Championship at Sugarloaf GC last week against an international field. Manuel had also won the Brunswick men’s and junior club championships in weeks past, including rounds that broke the course records from the member and championship tees.
Not being intimidated by Manuel’s recent success, Kannegieser came out of the gate with a birdie on the opening hole to take the early lead. After Manuel bogeyed the second, Kannegieser had a 2-up lead. Manuel bounced back, and after winning the 6th with birdie and 8 and 9 with pars, he made the turn 1-up.
Kannegieser leveled the match on 10 with birdie before Manuel answered with a birdie of his own on 11 to regain the lead. Manuel won the 12th with par and was sitting 2-up with six to go with the championship in sight. They traded halves on the next three holes, and as Kannegieser had his back against the wall with three to play, he rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt to get within one. After pars on 17, Manuel headed to the last hole 1-up.
Manuel hooked his tee shot into the left woods and was able to punch it back into play, leaving himself just over 200 yards over water into Point Sebago’s par-5 closing hole. He didn’t strike it solidly, and after finding the water up front, the match was set for extra holes.
The duo headed back to the 18th, where this time Manuel was able to get to the green safely and had a six-foot putt to close out the match. He missed, and the hole was halved with pars. The two again made their way back to 18, and again the hole was halved with pars. They moved to Point Sebago’s 17th hole and again swapped pars.
They headed to 18 again for the fourth time of the day, and this time it was Kannegieser who had the chance to win, facing a five-footer for the title. He rolled in the putt to claim the title of 2019 Match Play champion on what was the longest final in the ten years of this event’s history.