Schuller Wins PGA Match Play Championship

Rick Schuller of Chester, Va., won four of six holes midway through the back nine to capture the 46th annual PGA Match Play Championship, February 8 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. It was his second PGA Match Play title in four years.

Schuller, 46, beat J.C. Anderson, 47, of O'Fallon, Mo., 3 and 2, on the Dye Course. The win was worth $4,000 while Anderson received $2,500 from the $40,400 purse.

Schuller, the director of instruction at Swaders Sports Park, becomes the sixth PGA professional to win the PGA's Match Play and Stroke Play titles in the same season, earning the latter January 28 on the adjacent Ryder Course. He won the PGA Match Play here for the first time in 2006.

Next on his radar will be the record of three PGA Match Play titles held by Rick Vershure of Armonk, N.Y., in 1990, '93 and 2003. Two others have won it twice and in consecutive years: Bob Brue of Milwaukee, Wis., in 1975-76, and Gene George of West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1996-97.

"It's quite an honor to win this again," Schuller said. "I'm very humbled by this. There is a very small list of names of pros who have won the PGA Match Play more than once and it shows that all my hard work has paid off."

Schuller went one down four times through 10 holes as Anderson won the first hole with par, and the third, seventh and 10th with birdies. Schuller rallied each time, winning the second, sixth and ninth holes with birdies, the latter from 30 feet.

Then, at the par-4 11th hole, Anderson made what he later said was his only bad swing of the tournament, driving deep into the rough left of the fairway. He chopped out, eventually reached the green in five and conceded Schuller's birdie putt.

Schuller then hooked his drive towards the woods at the par-4 12th. But the ball hit a tree, bounced back into the fairway and he saved a halve with par, won the par-3 13th by sinking a 40-foot birdie putt, the par-4 14th when Anderson missed a two-footer for par and the par-3 16th to end the match when Anderson three-putted for the first time all week.

"I putted well to get here (to the finals) but I didn't putt well today," said Anderson, the head professional at Old Hickory Golf Club. "He got a big break at the 12th hole and made two long birdie putts, but that's match play."

In 16 holes, Schuller was 1-under-par, hitting eight of 12 fairways and 11 greens. Anderson was 1-over after finding eight fairways and 12 greens.