Underwood Cup: Professionals overcome five-point deficit on final day to win
The Professional Team (JAGA Photo)
The Professional Team (JAGA Photo)

Recap courtesy of the Jacksonville Area Golf Association

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 8 1/2 - 3 1/2 with just 12 Singles points available, captain Mike Broderick’s Professionals won eight matches and tied two to grab a 12 1/2 - 11 1/2 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

Deerwood head pro Broderick must have had his own version of Ben Crenshaw’s infamous ’99 Ryder Cup “I’ve got a good feeling about this!” speech to rally his guys!

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&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 4 1/2-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 following are some additional Underwood Cup stats researched by Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union:

- The comeback marked the biggest Singles rally in Underwood Cup history. The previous record was by the Pros in 1994, when they came from an 8-4 deficit to win 13-11.
- The 9-3 second-day edge for the pros in Singles was a half-point away from the 2003 record of 9 1/2 - 2 1/2 by the Amateurs. 
- The one-point margin was the closest since the two teams tied 12-12 in 2007 and 2008, with the Amateurs retaining the Underwood Cup both times.
- It was the eighth time the final score was tied or decided by one point.

Played over two days at the revered Donald Ross-Timuquana design, the Amateurs roared out to an 8 1/2 - 3 1/2 lead at the conclusion of the morning Four-Ball (4 1/2 - 1 1/2) and afternoon Foursome (4 - 2) matches on the first day.

The Amateurs’ lead in the Cup was reduced to 17-13-3. 

The Professionals were captained by Mike 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.

Launched in 1992, the first 30 Underwood Cups were contested at Timuquana Country Club before moving to San Jose in 2022 and 2023. A third host venue will be added to the three-club rotation. It will be announced in the near future.

View results for Underwood Cup
ABOUT THE Underwood Cup

Ryder Cup-style matches between a professional team representing the North Florida PGA Section and an amateur team representing the Jacksonville Area Golf Association. Four-Ball and foursomes matches on day one, singles matches on day two.

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