Jacksonville Sports Day

Stetson University’s Chris Williard Wins 10th JAGA Match Play Championship

Stetson University graduate student Chris Williard claimed medalist honors at last Sunday’s qualifying tournament, then won five matches over three days to take home the 10th JAGA Match Play Championship at Queen’s Harbour Yacht and Country Club, getting the best of Jacob Posze of Jacksonville, 2 and 1, in the finals.

In the consolation match, Underwood Cup participant and Palencia Club food and beverage director Aaron Badz was also a 2 and 1 winner over Evan Thompson of Oakland, Fla. and Florida Tech.

Williard got off to a slow start in the championship match with two bogeys in his first six holes but was stellar the rest of the way hitting lots of fairways and greens, resulting in one birdie, one bogey and nine pars. The 22-year-old Columbus, Ohio native played the 17 holes 1 over par.

Prosze jumped out to a 1 up lead with a par at No. 1 but would not win another hole in the next 10 and found himself 5 down standing on the 12th tee. The LSU graduate and former First Tee employee clawed his way to two down with four to play after making birdies on 12, 13 and 14.

The comeback stalled at the par-3 15th when Posze missed the green to the right and failed to get up and down while his opponent was making par. A sloppy bogey by Williard on 16 kept the match alive. It concluded on the 17th when Williard and Posze both made routine pars on the par 5.

Williard has one year of eligibility remaining at Stetson where he is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. He is a frequent visitor to the Sea Island Club in Georgia where his instructor, Daniel Gray, is based.

Posze, 27, has lived in Jacksonville since 2016 and only recently returned to the competitive golf arena.

The championship match at the 6,915-yard Queen’s Harbour layout was set up on Saturday afternoon when Williard dispatched Badz, 4 and 3, and Posze clipped Thompson 1 up.

In his march to the finale, Williard also defeated Maxwell Telford of St. Augustine (2 up), Michael Del Rocco of Jacksonville (1 up) and Nate Moseby of Jacksonville (4 and 3). At the August 23rd qualifier at Palencia, Williard posted the only sub-par round (2-under 70) to lead the pack by two shots.

Posze shot 73 in the qualifier (tied for fifth) and was seeded eighth. He took down Zach Lee of Jacksonville Beach (6 and 5), Ty Capps of Palm Coast (2 and 1) and Gonzalo Miguelarena of St. Augustine (5 and 4) in his first three matches.

The championship began on Friday morning with 32 seeds based on the results of the Palencia Club qualifier.

The top finishers will be awarded World Amateur Golf Ranking points. The JAGA Match Play is one of three JAGA tournaments recognized by the WAGR, joined by the First Coast Amateur and the Jacksonville Amateur.

In addition to becoming the tenth name engraved on the JAGA Match Play Championship trophy, Williard was presented with a sterling silver engraved money clip from Underwood Jewelers and a $450 Queen’s Harbour pro shop gift certificate.

Complete tournament results, photos and more may be found at jax.bluegolf.com or www.jaxareagolf.org. A round-by-round recap of the matches follows:

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