2017 US Golf Teachers Cup Champion Matt Smith
BOULDER CITY, NV – After years of heartbreak, Matt Smith can finally say he’s the United States Golf Teachers Cup champion. Smith fired a final-round 69 to take his first title with a two-round score of 144, earning a three-stroke victory over runners-up Rebecca Samuelsson and Shafiq Masih at Boulder Creek Golf Club, here Tuesday, October 17. Smith previously won two Open division titles in the U.S. Cup, but was defeated for the overall title both times from golfers in the Senior division. This year, Smith had no such worries as the senior set had their own championship, the inaugural United States Senior Golf Teachers Cup.
Smith, who trailed first-round leader Tom Alley by one entering the final round, had a game plan before he started.
“I was trying to get off to a hot start and put some pressure on the leader, and I did a fantastic job of that,” said Smith, who was three-under after four holes, giving him a two-shot lead over Alley at that point. Samuelsson made some noise of her own, and she was tied for the lead after Smith bogeyed the 10th hole. But Smith went three-under the next five holes to Samuelsson’s even-par effort, and three pars later, Smith earned the title.
“I’m really proud of myself because I accomplished the goals I set before I got here,” remarked Smith “I shot a round in the 60s, finished the tournament at even par, and I’ve had a really good year playing golf in tournaments, but I haven’t finished well. I finished off this tournament and it caps the year on a good note because of that. This year I re-committed myself to tournament golf and played the most tournaments I’ve played in 15 years.”
Smith, who teaches at Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City, Ohio, felt the victory showed the value of what he has been teaching. “I preach every day at my junior academy you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses and you have to play to your strengths,” he said. “I hit my irons great, hit the wedges great and for the most part putted really well. By far, the tournament win was because of my irons, which I feel is the strength of my game. I knew if I could just get it in the fairway, from there I would be deadly. Every shot I hit went at the hole.”
Gulych Takes Inaugural Senior Title
2017 US Senior Golf Teachers Cup Champion Grant Gulych
Grant Gulych from St. Thomas, Ontario, became the first winner of the United States Senior Golf Teachers Cup when he fired rounds of 67-70 – 137 to take a four-stroke victory over runner-up Dave Belling. Gulych was solid for both days, never relinquishing the lead.
“I drove the ball extremely well; it made the par-5s reachable in two,” said Gulych, also the 2013 United States Golf Teachers Cup champion. “My wedge play helped me a lot in regards to direction as it left me on the correct ledges on the greens.”
Belling played another solid round with a 71 after his opening 70, but it wasn’t enough to overtake his fellow Canadian.
“My goal was to catch and beat Grant,” said Belling, himself a two-time U.S. Cup titlist. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” he continued. “I was one-under after six, but the turning point was the seventh hole, when I bogeyed and Grant birdied.” Belling had previously cut the lead to one, but after seven holes Gulych’s lead was four, and he never looked back as neither Belling or Mark Harman, who was in second place entering the round, could put any pressure on the unflappable Gulych. Gulych was elated after the win.
“It feels awesome,” said Gulych. “As soon as the tournament was announced, that was my number one goal. I wanted my name on the trophy first.” Gulych’s mental approach to tournament golf is one to be emulated. “I play my own game, do the best I can and take it shot by shot,” he said. “I have three goals when I come to any tournament: No three-putts, no penalty shots, and 75 percent greens in regulation. If you do that, you have a great opportunity to win.”
Gulych was also grateful for the support he received from others. “I want to thank Ben Butler, his wife Kelly and daughter Stephanie for sponsoring me,” he remarked.
Pam Montgomery won the Ladies division title, shooting 78-77 – 155, while 76-year-old Bill Harwick, a two-time winner of the U.S. Cup, won the Super Senior division with scores of 76-67 – 143. Hardwick’s score also earned him a third-place finish in the U.S. Senior Cup.