Professionals win 33rd Underwood Cup


In a final day that harkened back to the American heroics at the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline Country Club, the team of 12 Northern Chapter PGA professionals overcame a seemingly insurmountable five-point deficit entering the final day singles matches to pull off a stunning victory in the 33rd edition of the Underwood Cup at Timuquana Country Club.

Down 8½ to 3½ with just 12 singles points available, captain Mike Broderick’s professionals won eight matches and tied two to grab a 12½ to 11½ victory. It was their second Cup win in the last two years. Those two wins followed a drought of only one win (2016) in the previous 12 Underwood Cups.

The tone for the singles’ session was set early when Zach Vinal, Clint Avret, Taylor Davis and Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth put full points on the board with wins in the second-through-fifth matches, and Jake Etherton added a half point in the sixth match.

In the second match out, Vinal was in deep trouble going four down through four. He would right the ship, however, making six birdies the rest of the way to capture an inspiring 1 up win that proved to be the beginning of a highly improbable comeback by the professionals.

Amateur Chase Baldwin intervened with a 2-and-1 victory over Hayes Farley in the seventh match to halt the slide. But that would be his team’s final full point. The pros went on another 4½-point tear, with four wins (Jennifer Borocz, Blanton Tessin, Roman O’Rourke and Aaron Russell) and a halved match (Josh Wolfe) over the final five head-to-head matches.

The Cup was still in doubt though with two points hanging in the balance only to see Josh Wolfe eke out a tie with Tyler Brown in the 10th match on the long par-4 finishing hole that was playing into a stiff north wind. A few moments later, Roman O’Rourke would two-putt from 60 feet to win the final match 1 up despite Toby Ragland’s valiant birdie chip-in effort at the home hole. 

The professionals were captained by Broderick of Deerwood Country Club and the Amateurs by Mike Del Rocco of San Jose Country Club. Broderick’s assistant was Jack Aschenbach of the North Florida Junior Golf Foundation. Fellow San Jose member, Mark Taylor, assisted Del Rocco.

The Underwood Cup mirrors the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. It features the elite players among Northeast Florida PGA professional and amateur golfers.

Underwood Jewelers, with Underwood president Clayton Bromberg serving as honorary starter and host of the post-event luncheon and awards ceremony, is the title partner and has been all 33 years.

The matches are conducted by the Northern Chapter of the North Florida PGA and supported by the Jacksonville Area Golf Association (JAGA) and Florida State Golf Association (FSGA).

Other Underwood Cup partners are Cutter & Buck, Devant & Pukka/Chandler Altman, Don Poag and Chip Holcombe Brands.