CHEROKEE, Iowa – The hustle and bustle around Cherokee Golf Course has already began in anticipation of the 87th annual Sioux Valley Amateur Match Play Tournament.
Early bird qualifying has attracted 29 qualifiers thus far for Iowa’s oldest match play tournament and truly one of my favorite events of all time.
The Early bird period, though, ends on Saturday and regular qualifying starts on Saturday, June 12 and runs through Friday, June 18 when at that time pairings will be formulated.
J.D. Anderson of West Des Moines, a face familiar to everyone around these parts, is the defending champion and a five-time winner. Along with last summer, the Pocahontas, Iowa, native also won in 2018, ‘13, ‘09 and ‘07.
With one more victory, Anderson will match the late great Mike Jividen, widely considered the top match play competitor this area has ever produced.
Anderson, of course, is exempt from qualifying because he is the defending champion.
Nick Dreckman, the 2019 winner, has the lowest qualifying score through the Early Bird period, shooting a 5-under 67. Dreckman is a Le Mars, Iowa, native currently residing in Mankato, Minnesota.
Colin Mitchell of Sioux City is next in line at 70, while Austin Sweeney of Sutherland, Iowa, a perennial contender, shot 71.
Another past champ, Bill Mathers of Cushing, Iowa, has posted a 74. The ageless wonder nearly matched his age with that qualifying mark.
Ray Sencenbaugh of Sioux City carded 75, while four more players have broken 80. Because of the nice weather, a host of others are expected to make their way here to qualify before the 1 p.m. deadline on June 18.
Remember, the prize for the low qualifying score is $250.
Matches in all flights are on the traditional Father’s Day weekend, June 19-20.
If you’re interested in competing, an $85 entry fee gains an 18-hole practice round, plus your 18 holes of qualifying.
All entrants not qualifying for a Sioux Valley flight are eligible for a consolation tournament on Saturday, June 26 at Cherokee Golf Course.
As always, there will be 16 golfers per flight, with championship and first flight matches running 18 holes and flights two through seven nine holes.
For inquiries, contact two guys who work pretty hard this time of year – Jason Spooner at 712-251-5878 and Bill Spindler at 712-221-9328.
The Sioux Valley has expanded this year to include a first-ever women’s match play tournament on July 10-11.
Qualifying runs July 3-9 and a calcutta auction and meal are set for Friday, July 9. Entry fee is $50, which includes a qualifying round, a match in the tournament and an extra nine holes for two people.
A SPECIAL SUNDAY
Hard to believe that two of the four Sioux City “major” tournaments are already in the books.
Johnny Spellerberg of Bennington, Nebraska, won the Tri-State Masters in May while Sam Prue collected the top prize at the Interstate Amateur.
It was truly a weekend to remember for Prue, a 61-year-old who outdueled 25-year-old Connor Power in a sudden-death playoff last Sunday at Two Rivers Golf Club.
The final round turned into survival of the fittest, so to speak, with swirling winds gusting at 30 miles-per-hour or more the entire day.
That’s why the low score posted for the tournament by Prue and Power was 6-over-par. Normally, on a calm day, any number of players would finish under par.
Prue, a Two River passholder, certainly knows every nook and cranny around the place and took advantage with solid play throughout.
He became the oldest Interstate winner in recent memory and quite possibly the oldest of all time.
The landscape at Two Rivers – formally known as the Sioux City Boat Club – is undergoing some changes. Most notably is a dredged area that in time will be a lake all the way down the right side of the 16th hole.
If you haven’t had a chance to see it, it’s worth making a trip to do so.
With his win, Prue has moved into first place in the Sioux City Journal Siouxland Player of the Year point standings.
Even though he’s the reigning Senior Player of the Year, for now Prue is looking down at the rest of the Open Division.
The rest of the top five in the Open Division are Brian Evans, Spellerberg, Ethan Spier and Power.
Meanwhile, Bret Taylor holds down the top spot in the Senior points race. Taylor resides in Booneville, Iowa, but spent many years living and working in Sioux City.
Sean Davis, Jeff Donaldson, Mathers and Lance Heimsoth round out the top five.
Taylor, by the way, is a three-time Sioux Valley Match Play winner, most recently in 2016.
The Sioux Valley is the next points tournament on the schedule.