Stevens, Steckowych & Richardson Crowned 2023 Match Play Champions
Stratham, NH – The Golf Club of New England received 3.5 inches of rain the day prior, but the skies cleared for the final round of the Match Play Championships. It came down to Mark Stevens and Scott Doughty for the Mid-Amateurs, Craig Steckowych and Bob Mielcarz for the Seniors, and Corey Richardson and Rowena Wilks for the Women. Despite the wet and breezy conditions, Stevens, Steckowych and Richardson all prevailed to be crowned this year’s Match Play champions.
They started at Pease Golf Course for qualifying and as the field whittled down, the strongest players emerged. Mark Stevens, the defending champion, was set to face off with Scott Doughty, an opponent who took him to 19 holes in this year’s New Hampshire Amateur Championship held at Manchester Country Club.
“Scott and I had a great match at Manchester, it went to extra holes”, commented Stevens after his win. “He played pretty solid there, so I knew he had some game.”
Looking at the weather forecast and knowing how much rain the golf course received, Stevens had a feeling it would benefit him. He said, “Coming into today, I thought the conditions would favor me a little bit because I saw my game versus his game at Manchester.”
Stevens got off to a strong start, making birdie on the first hole and from there, won the next three holes to make a statement. He held onto that lead throughout the match, making the turn at 5up with nine holes left to play. Doughty had an unfortunate circumstance on the 11th, not finding his ball and ended up losing the hole to Stevens. Stevens then capitalized on Doughty leaving his second shot short on the 12th hole to close out the match, winning 7&6.
“I didn’t have any expectations which is probably a good thing, I just wanted to enjoy the day”, stated Stevens. “And when you have that mindset, you play your best.”
Stevens was able to play some of his best golf for a repeat win, even after welcoming his second child 10 days prior. While he hadn’t played golf in a few weeks, he was still able to get the job done for another victory.
On the Senior side, it was a rematch from last year’s Senior Match Play Championship between Craig Steckowych and Bob Mielcarz. Last year, however, Mielcarz took home the victory after taking Steckowych to seven extra holes. Steckowych was not going to let that happen this year as he got off to a strong start, winning three of the first five holes, taking full advantage of how far he is able to hit the ball compared to Mielcarz.
By the time the duo made the turn, Steckowych was 4up and just like Stevens, he won the 11th and 12th holes to get himself to 6up over Mielcarz with six holes to play. He was able to close it out on Golf Club of New England’s 13th hole, getting back in the winner’s circle for this event. This is Steckowych’s 5th time being crowned the Senior Match Play Champion.
The Women’s division came down to two new finalists, Rowena Wilks and Corey Richardson. Richardson is a previous NHGA champion, winning the New Hampshire Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in 2019. Now taking on Golf Club of New England, the two knew they had a tough task ahead of them.
For much of the front nine, the duo was tied, trading holes back and forth until Richardson started to take a lead, winning the 4th and 5th holes. Then as they came to the back nine, Richardson was 2up over Wilks, looking to win a few more holes early to close it out; she was able to win the 10th and 11th holes to get herself to 4up. Wilks continued to hold on though, they were the only match that reached the 15th hole. Richardson won the 15th to close out the match, 5&3.
Richardson commented, “I didn’t have to worry about the ball rolling far, I could just hit it and it would stay there.”
Based on how wet the conditions were, it took the roll factor out of her mind as a challenge so she just needed to navigate where to hit the ball and sometimes needing an extra shot to reach the green. She was able to find success and capture her first Women’s Match Play title.
The NHGA would like to thank The Golf Club of New England for hosting the final matches of the Match Play Championships. Despite the rain from the previous day, the course was in great condition and was a fun test of golf for the finalists.
Mid-Amateur Match Play | Bracket
Senior Match Play | Bracket
Women’s Match Play | Bracket