1999 Match Play Championship

Orlando's Avril Defeats Former U.S. Mid-Amateur Champ to Win Match Play

August 15, 1999

PALM CITY, Fla. - Orlando's Matt Avril defeated Jensen Beach's Jeff Thomas, 3 and 1, to win the Florida State Match Play Championship at Cobblestone Country Club on Sunday.

After qualifying as the eighth seed with an even-par 72, Avril won two matches Friday, two matches Saturday, and then defeated Thomas Sunday morning to claim the title.

In the finals, Avril took a 4-up lead through 10 holes. Thomas took two holes back by winning the 12th and 13th, but couldn't make-up any more ground. On the par-3 seventeenth, Thomas hit his tee-shot into the bunker. Avril responded with a tee shot to the middle of the green fifteen feet away from the hole. Thomas left his second shot in the bunker, and when he didn't hole his third shot, he conceded the match to Avril.

Thomas was the 26th seed after firing a 2-over par 74 on Thursday. In winning his four matches on Thursday and Friday, he only played the seventeenth hole once. He had defeated Jacksonville's Steve Dodson in 19 holes in the quarterfinals.

Thomas has had a remarkable amateur career. Besides winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, he is an eight-time winner of the New Jersey State Amateur Championship. He has also played in the 1994 Masters.

Avril advanced to the final after defeating Lutz' Joe Alfieri, 2 and 1, in the semifinal match. He won his first-round match over Valrico's Rusty Napier, 4 and 2, then defeated David Deuchie of Coconut Creek, 1 up, in the second round. In the quarterfinals he defeated West Palm Beach's Brandon Smith, 2 and 1. Smith had defeated last year's champion, Steven Sim of Ft. Lauderdale, 3 and 2, in the 2nd round.

The finals for three other flights also occurred Sunday morning. In the first flight, Tampa's Chad Oleson defeated Stuart's Shawn Hughes, 6 and 5. Sunrise's Maris Kirschbaum defeated Surfside's Gunnar Bennett in 19 holes for the second flight title, while Vero Beach's Michael Muller defeated Longwood's Greg Myer, 3 and 2, in the third flight final's match.

The Florida State Match Play Championship is the eighth of 16 state championships conducted annually by the Florida State Golf Association.

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