MOHNTON, Pa. - If the last year has taught us anything, it's this - you do not want to face Sean Knapp in match play. The current US Senior Amateur champion, Knapp added another trophy to his collection by topping an excellent field to win the 12th Pennsylvania Senior Match Play, at LedgeRock Golf Club. The event was sponsored by LECOM.
"I knew I was going to have my hands full today, playing someone on their home course [Scott Mayne] in the morning, and if I was fortunate to win that, having a tough match in the afternoon no matter who won the other semifinal," Knapp said. "I'm just happy to get through and win this event."
He started the morning against Mayne and was either trailing or tied through the entire match until the par-4 17th. Knapp made par there, but Mayne couldn't convert his par opportunity and Knapp took his first lead of the day. And then on the 18th hole, he picked a great time for his first red number of the day. After 17 straight pars, Knapp was in good position on the 559-yard par-5 18th hole. But Mayne hit an incredible shot out of the rough to put himself just on the fringe, leaving him in good position to make birdie. Knapp's second shot, from 238 yards, was the difference maker. He cut a hybrid to just three feet and was conceded eagle when Mayne's attempt missed, giving him a 2-up win.
In the other semifinal, David Brown and Ed Podufal played an equally thrilling match. Podufal captured the first two holes for an early lead, and extended that lead with a birdie on No. 5. After losing the 7th hole, he again made a birdie on the par-4 eighth hole to move to 3-up. But Brown began to charge, with a birdie on the ninth followed by a par to win the 10th. Another par on the par-5 13th hole squared up the match, and that's where it stayed for the remainder of the 18 holes. The duo went back to No. 1 for the first playoff hole, and both made par. But on the second playoff hole, Podufal sank a birdie putt on the 141-yard par-3 to advance to the championship.
Just like in the semifinal match, Podufal started strong. He made three birdies among his first six holes to take a 2-up lead.
"I kind of got punched in the mouth on the front nine," Knapp said. "But I told myself that if he was going to play like that, god bless him but I just wanted to try to hang around."
That kind of patience and resolve might not have been there for a golfer who hasn't competed at Knapp's level, and he cites that national championship win from 2017 as a key factor.
"Winning begets winning," Knapp said. "Maybe that is a byproduct of winning the Senior Amateur."
Knapp's run to overtake Podufal began when the latter made a bogey on No. 9, dropping his lead to 1-up. Another solid par by Knapp won him the tenth hole and made the match even. Bogeys by Podufal on No. 11 and No. 13 pushed Knapp into the lead, 2-up. From there, it was only a matter of time, and when Knapp came to the 17th hole with a 1-up advantage, he had Podufal on the brink. Knapp parred the 17th to win the hole, the match and the championship.
"I'm just very honored and happy to have won this championship," Knapp said.
Players throughout the two days of the championship raved about the host club.
"I loved the greens here, and I thought the course played very well," Knapp said.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of LedgeRock Golf Club for all of the hospitality during the championship.