After a combined 224 holes – 36 holes in the rain-shortened 54-hole stroke play seeding event last week and then 188 grueling match play holes this week (you red that correctly), Jessica Porvasnik prevailed as the first champion of the inaugural PXG Women’s Match Play Championship.
Having won the Stroke Play title at King & Bear emerging as the top seed in the Match Play event, Porvasnik dominated in the Pod Play Points format (Hickley, OH) winning her group by 8 points, and then and showed why she was the #1 seed and #1 player on the WAPT in 2021. Her consistent play, her ability to make big putts, and her steely resolve simply proved too much for her competition to handle.
But it wasn’t easy. In the final match she ran into the quiet New Zealander, Julianne Alvarez, the 14th overall seed. Alvarez pulled off the first upset in the match-play bracket by defeating 2-seed Sofia Garcia, who will be playing in December’s LPGA Q-Series finals for a chance to play onthe golf’s biggest stage. Alvarez is no stranger to the big stage, or to match play. The 2016 National Champion at the University of Washington has also won the New Zealand Amateur, both of which require match play to win. She gave Porvasnik all she could handle, going to 20 holes to decide a winner. Alvarez got off to a quick start in the Championship match, going 4-up thru 5 holes. Porvasnik started to battle back and the battle raged on as the weather completely changed from a relatively calm day to a gusting wind and temps dropping into the high 50’s as the sunset on the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Porvasnik started out slowly, but it was nothing new for her. Earlier in the day she had to battle back against one of the most experienced match play players in the field, Finland’s Emily Penttila. In that semifinal match, down three with nine holes to play, Porvasnik would go on to win six of the next eight holes, where Porvasnik closed out Pentilla on the 17th green with a 3&1 victory.
The Championship match showed the type of player Porvasnik is. Staying calm, waiting for her moment to strike, she went to the back nine this time four down, this time to Alvarez, in what was either an eerie coincidence or maybe a unique strategy, and certainly the set up for a storybook ending to the storybook week she was enjoying. Down one on the 18th, Porvasnik stuck her approach shot and made the routine par. Alvarez caught the lip on her 4-foot slider to close the match, and suddenly the Championship match was going to extra holes. Back to the tee on 18, this time it was Alvarez who buried the long putt to keep the match going. Over to the 165-yard part three 13th at the Slammer and Squire they went for the second playoff hole – one more unique element of the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship. The perfect hole to watch a perfect ending, the fairway and green both situated below the spectator hill on which more than 100 fans – maybe the biggest gallery these women have ever played in front of – Porvasnik put her tee shot right over the back left flag-stick to about 15 feet. Alvarez pushed her tee shot to about 20 feet from the stick on the opposite corner. With two humps to climb on the way to the hole, she left herself another 4 footer and marked. Porasnik nearly birdied the hole, and
Alvarez conced the 6-incher for par. It was all up to Alvarez. With four feet separating her from a thrid playoff hole and a darkening sky, she just burnt the edge, sealing an all-time comeback win for Porvasnik.
With her dad on the bag for all 188 match play holes, Porvasnik was able to pull off the back to back victory. She banked the $8,000 Champions’ check and with that, and her $5,000 from the week before, became the first player in WAPT history to collect more than $40,000 during a calendar season – certainly a women’s developmental tour milestone. Alvarez earned $5500 for second place.
Bradley upsets Pentilla, for 3rdThe 3 v 4 match was no less dramatic, with American Elise Bradley needing the last putt on the 18th hole, a 25 foot bomb, to get past Finland’s Emily Pentilla. Pentilla, the 5th seed, got off to a fast start going 2-up through thru four. Bradley scratched one back on the 5th and squared the match 10th. She dropped to one down on the 12th, but roared right back to square the match on the short par 4, 14th. Bradley then took advantage to win the 17th and go one up on a rare missed fairway by Pentilla, which slipped into the left side water hazard. For the second session in a row, Bradley won her match on the 18th hole, taking home 3rd place money at $4100 while Pentilla cashes a check for $3500. The quarterfinalists earned $2600 and the 8 players who made it to the Sweet 16 each received $1200.