Zack Kempa Outlasts the Field to Earn Second Ontario Men’s Match Play Title

June 7, 2013

Port Sandfield, ON – Brantford resident Zack Kempa outlasted the field of 64 competitors to earn his second Ontario Men’s Match Play championship at The Lake Joseph Club in Port Sandfield, Ontario.

Kempa, the 2011 champion, found himself in a familiar position as one of two remaining golfers after winning five matches this week at the Muskoka area course. Friday morning’s final round saw the 21-year-old Brantford Golf and Country Club member square off against former Ontario Junior Boys’ champion Lucas Kim, a Golf Association of Ontario Public Player from Toronto.

The pair ended up in the finals after Kempa battled back from a three hole deficit in the semi-final round to eliminate Turner Southey Gordon of Toronto in a close 1up victory.  Kim, who lost in 2012’s semi-finals to eventual champion Michael Lancaster, sent Markham’s Truman Tai home with his own 1up win to stamp his ticket to the finals.

Friday’s final match saw Kempa and Kim play a steady front nine before Kempa started to gain momentum after the turn, moving into a two-hole lead on the 12th . After halving 13 and 14, both players found themselves off the green on the par-3 15th, with Kim rolling his second shot well past the hole while Kempa brought his within three feet to take a 3up advantage.

With his back against the wall, Kim got into trouble off the tee on 16, hitting into the woods and then taking two shots to get back onto the fairway, leaving plenty of room for Kempa to win the hole and close out the match as the 2013 champion.

“Lucas is a fantastic competitor and he made some great shots,” said Kempa. “He is a phenomenal ball striker and when he hit a bad shot he’d follow up with a great recovery.”

“Lucas is very tough to play against.”

The match play format clearly suits Kempa’s game as he picked up the trophy for the second time in three years. He also made it to the semi-finals in 2012, losing on the 18th hole to Chris Hemmerich, and finished as runner-up in the Ontario Junior Boys’ Match Play in 2010.

“It’s nice because you just have to focus on beating one other person,” he explained.

“With match play you really have to make sure you make your six-footers and your four-footers because you know they aren’t going to give you those short putts.”

Kempa has played 17 competitive match play rounds at the Lake Joseph Club since first qualifying for (and winning) the event in 2011, and credits his familiarity with the layout as part of his success this time around.

“I had a good feel for the course and I knew the lines where I had to hit the ball,” he said.

“The course was much wetter this year, and because it was so wet you didn’t get into as much trouble if you hit it off the line.”

“It was in fantastic shape for the event and the greens were excellent.”

Kempa is coming off a stellar junior year as a member of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks men’s golf team. On Wednesday, the marketing major was named Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Player of the Year while earning first team all-conference honours for the second straight year.

In the 2012-2013 collegiate season, he racked up nine top-five finishes and three wins in his 11 events played including individual medalist honours in the 2012 PSAC Championships and the 2013 NCAA Atlantic/East Super Regionals, and a tie for first in the Hansen Invitational. He also has two previous collegiate victories under his belt from his sophomore year.

Kempa plans to return in 2014 to make a run for a third Ontario match play title, which would tie Big Break Indian Wells champion David Byrne’s three victories (2007-2009). As for now, he’ll spend the next month preparing for the Investors Group Ontario Amateur Championship, set to take place July 9-12 at Oslerbrook Golf and Country Club near Collingwood.

Established in 1986, The Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship is contested annually and features 64 of Ontario’s best amateur golfers that have qualified through one of six qualifying tournaments held earlier this season, or who have gained an exemption into the event.  Notable former champions include Ontario Golf Hall of Fame member Ian Leggatt, David Hearn, David Byrne and Dave Bunker.

The Golf Association of Ontario would like to thank Clublink and The Lake Joseph Club for their continued support of the Ontario Men’s Match Play championship.