METSEK Disabled Matchplay Championships 2021

METSEK Disabled Matchplay Championships 2021 was held 17.-18.9.2021 top condition Master Golf Forest and Master -courses.

The weather throughout the event was autumn cold and windy but dry, with the exception of a few brief rain. The prevailing conditions did not bother the players, as this was the first time in Finland that there were match play championships for golfers with disabilities. A total of 8 golfers took part of tournaments according their golf handicap. Players were divided into two baskets, also based on their golf handicap, after which the drawn first-round match pairs were ready to start the action. The game format was Matchplay without golf handicaps.

“Such an event is a great idea,” said Jukka Syrjänen, one of the pioneers of golfers with disabilities in Finland. “Usually we have only played stroke play kind of tournaments in Finland, so this form of play is a stimulus and a much-needed addition to the competition calendar. As soon as I heard about this event, I thought that i should get involved,” Syrjänen continues. In general, the message was parallel for all players in the tournament. An event like this has been in demand for a long time.

17.9.2021 at 15.00 Jari Vihanne had the honor of hitting the opening shot of the historic tournament. Other players had gathered around the No. 1 tii on Master’s Forest course to witness the event. The first shot was successful and the ball landed in the middle of the fairway, accompanied by applauses. When asked “Did you get nervous?” Vihanne said with a laugh, “No. This is where this game is just beginning, an awesome event coming.”

One after another, the couples started their journey. Live monitoring of the tournamen took place via the Gamebook, so everyone was able to follow the progress and situations of the other pairs in real time. Some of the players had played matchplay before, some were for the first time in that game format. For Simo Kosunen, who finished 3rd at the Master Golf in July in the Strokeplay Championships of Disabled golfers, the experience was the first. “I haven’t played matchplay before,” Simo said briefly. Experience or not, it didn’t seem to bother him. The games progressed at a steady pace until semi-final pairs were clear at the end of Friday night.

The first semi-final pair Simo Kosunen and Heikki Syvälä started on Master Forest course on Saturday morning at 8.30. Ten minutes later, Johannes Siikonen and Ville Lipsanen started after them. Both match pairs played top-notch golf, successes and failures, as it is on marchplay format. The even-numbered match between Simo Kosunen and Heikki Syvälä settled on the 15th green on situation 4/3 and Kosunen took his place in the afternoon final. The match between Johannes Siikonen and Ville Lipsanen ended earlier, on Forest course 13th green with a result of 6/5. Although the match in the light of the numbers looked uneven, they both played great golf all round. “At the end of the match, I was in the overall result +3 (13 holes),” said Siikonen. “Back nine was -1 (4 holes), so i really needed to do my best today in this match. Ville is a good golfer and I think he fought well today,” Siikonen continued. Arto Lipsanen, who worked in Ville Lipsanen’s caddy, regretted that the uneven opening game paid the chances for Ville for the final. “Yes, Ville’s game in this match pair crashed into a few bad drives,” Arto noted. “However, the most important thing was to get to play these weekend games, which means the goal for this event has already been achieved,” Arto continued. Lipsanen family lives in Kerimäki and drove to the event place already on Wednesday night. “It would have been annoying if we had to drive all that way to get to play just one round of golf on Friday,” Arto smiled.

After the morning games were over, the players went on together to eat a tasty “Golfer’s Lunch” at Bodom Manor. At the same time, there was a bit of analysis of the morning games and a discussion of the event on a general level. “It’s great that such an event is being organized, and the course is on great condition,” said Heikki Syvälä. Syvälä is one of the Finnish players in the European Tour of the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA), so after seeing many different clubs, he knows where to compare things.

After lunch, medal games started. First at 13.10 the bronze match between Heikki Syvälä and Ville Lipsanen started on the Master Golf Master course and ten minutes later started the final between Johannes Siikonen and Simo Kosunen. The matches could once again be followed via the Gamebook, and it was great to note that there was also encouragement and cheering from people on their cell phones. The event clearly aroused interest among people who were not present too.

In the bronze match between Syvälä and Lipsanen, match progressed evenly until the 7th hole, but before the end of the first nine, Lipsanen managed to take the lead by two holes. On back nine, holes 10 and 11 were even, but then Lipsanen managed to finish the game with a three-hole straight 12-14 and was able to secure a bronze prize to take back home to Kerimäki. “Yes, three rounds of tournament golf for two days started already to feel a little, there is no need to make any excuses, Ville played better in the end,” said Syvälä. “However, i had a good feeling about the whole tournament, thanks to the great arrangements,” Syvälä finished.

In the final, Siikonen took a small lead from Kosunen at the beginning. After eight holes, the match was in favor of Siikonen by 4-hole lead. In the ninth hole of the course, Kosunen managed to take one back, but Siikonen immediately replied back and after the 10th hole, the difference between the players were 4 holes again. “i was playing Hole by hole. I didn’t think about the situation at that point. “Siikonen stated,” I had a few ‘Powerfade’ on the left, something I never hit, because usually my ‘bad’ shots are right sided pull hook shots. This was clear that my body was getting tired. ” Siikonen stated after the round. “Yeah I knew it wasn’t easy for Simo either, so it was even battle on every hole.” Kosunen was able to narrow the cap by one on the next 11th hole and after two evened holes he was able to take another on 14th hole. “At that point, I thought it might be that we’re playing a long format today, luckily I was then able to won the 15th hole and I forced Simon to dormie,” Siikonen analyzes. “Well, of course, when things have to be done according to a difficult and long way, I messed up the opening of the next hole and Simo was able to win the 16th hole.” Siikonen laughs. On situation by 2-hole lead to Siikonen players moved to the 17th tii-box, where both hit good drives in the middle of the fairway, but Siikonen’s second shot with iron-6 was weak and short in front of the green. Kosunen, on the other hand, made a great second shot, but ended up a little bit unlucky on the 30 cm raff on the right side of the green “I was pretty sure Simo would make that point an easy Up-Down, he was so icy in his short game all day. I had about 4 meters a par-putt, and I was pretty sure that the bogie wouldn’t be enough to even the hole and the match would be settled on hole 18. ” Siikonen repeated. Kosunen got a great chip from the thick raff and the ball slid on a green about a meter from the hole, touching the edge of the hole while passing it by. “I thought that now Simo puts his chip in. I already saw it. It would have been so typical in a situation like that when playing a match play. Surprises always happen.” Siikonen failed in his own par-putt making bogie and was left waiting as Kosunen prepared to put his put in and extended the game to the next hole. However, putt was short and so Siikonen won the match 2/1. “I was already so focused on the game going to the next hole that somehow i couldn’t react right away when Simo said, ‘That’s it, game over,’ even though I was standing there about 5 feet away holding the flagstick. I was just, yeah so it is,” Siikonen laughs.

The award ceremony was held at Bodom Manor after the final, and the award ceremony was presented by Mikko Eskelinen, Chairman of Master Golf Club Ry and a member of the Board of the Finnish Golf Union.

And so was first ever matchplay championships in history for disabled golfers done. Thanks to METSEK Group, which made it possible to organize the event, to Master Golf for the great conditions and for being able to organize the event at one of the best golf courses in Finland. Many thanks also to Aki Kuivaniemi of Golfcoat Oy and Johanna Ahti of the Golf Union and of course also to Mikko Eskelinen of Master Golf Club Ry. In addition, special thanks to the employees of Bodom Manor for the extremely great service and tasty lunch.

The following players took part in the historic event:
Hannu Eronen (Keimola Golf)
Simo Kosunen (Keimola Golf)
Ville Lipsanen (Kerigolf)
Timo Pessi (Kanavagolf)
Johannes Siikonen (Master Golf)
Jukka Syrjänen (HIFK Golf)
Heikki Syvälä (Golf Talma)
Jari Vihanne (Sea Golf Rönnas)