COLUMBIA — The Francis Hagan Match Play Championship is set to begin this weekend at the Lake of the Woods Golf Course.
Since 1994, the tournament has hosted some of Columbia’s best amateur golfers. It began when tournament chairman Andrew Baier wanted more competition for the Columbia area.
“I felt like Columbia needed additional individual tournaments,” Baier said. The only competitions at the time the Francis Hagan tournament was created were scrambles.
The Francis Hagan is a match play tournament, as opposed to stroke play, which involves golfers adding up their scores after each hole. But Baier wanted something different, and match play is a favorite of his.
“You’re going out and playing head-to-head with one player and one player only,” he said.
The person with the lowest score on a particular hole is one up on their opponent. The player with the most points at the end of the round wins that match.
This year, the tournament features a new division. The Senior Francis Hagan Match Play allows golfers older than 50 to compete in the same tournament style as the championship flight, except they will only play two rounds rather than three. Baier said the senior division was started in order to increase participation in the tournament.
The championship flight winner will take home $750 in gift certificates, a personal trophy and a traveling trophy. The senior flight champion will win $500 in gift certificates and a trophy.
Last year’s winner, Nick Wilson, who just completed his senior season on the Missouri men's golf team, will not be competing in this year’s tournament, but the field is still impressive.
Four-time winner David McDonald and two-time winner D.J. Chung will be playing. Tim Rooney and Joe Belmer, who each won one championship, will be competing in the senior flight.
“It’s a pretty good playing field out there. There’s no telling what will happen,” said Clayton Otto, who works in the Lake of the Woods clubhouse and helps run the tournament.
Seventy-four golfers have signed up for the championship flight, and 21 seniors have signed up for their division.
The tournament starts Saturday morning with a qualifying round. Sunday will be the first day of match play. Quarterfinals are set for June 16, and the semifinals and final are scheduled for June 17.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.