Kovach Catches His First Old Warson Cup Victory

St. Louis - The sun was back again on Sunday morning, making it a beautiful day at Old Warson Country Club to crown a Champion in the Old Warson Cup. With both defending champions knocked out of the competition on Saturday, this meant there would not be a repeat winner, but there were still two former champions in the field that could add to their tally. The semi-finalists and senior finalists knew that today would bring some stiff competition, especially when they saw who they would be up against. Only one quarterfinal match was unable to complete its round due to darkness on Saturday, so the two players - Kovach and Kelly - returned to finish their match early on Sunday. Kovach would win the match 3 & 1 to round out the semi-final field. Once this was determined, we turned our attention to the semi-final matches, which began at 7:20am.  

The first semi-final match was between two multi-cup champions. The number one seed, two-time champion, Justin Bryant of St. Louis Country Club was faced with three-time champion, number thirteen seed, Sam Migdal of Norwood Hills Country Club. With these decorated players, this was sure to be a battle to the finish. Migdal looked strong early in the match. By the end of the seventh hole, Migdal had a three-up lead over Bryant. This did not deter him though, as Bryant turned a page and won the next three holes to bring the match back to square. Migdal then found a second wind to get back to two-up through 13, but once again, Bryant rallied back. Bryant would win the last three holes to win the match 1 Up and take his place in the Final.  

The second semi-final match saw number three seed, Ryan Eckelkamp of Franklin County Country Club, and number ten seed, Chris Kovach of Old Hickory Golf Club, face off. Kovach had to complete his quarterfinal match moments before this match started, and Eckelkamp played 36 holes yesterday to earn his spot in the semi-final. In a true battle, Eckelkamp started the round by winning the first hole, but Kovach struck back by winning the second hole. By the fifth hole, Kovach had a 2 Up lead. Eckelkamp is a fighter and had tied the match back up after hole seven. Through nine holes, we were at a standstill. Kovach then won the tenth hole and kept that one-up lead until the seventeenth hole when Eckelkamp evened the score. The match went into an extra hole, where Kovach would win and claim the final spot in the Final Match.  

The Senior Final Match kicked off at 11:45am between first time competitor, Brian Hall of Persimmon Woods Golf Club, and inaugural senior champion, Buddy Allen of the Metropolitan eClub. The pair took off and remained tied until the fourth hole when Hall took the lead. Hall maintained control of the match for its entirety, going two-up on hole seven and not giving away many shots. Allen tried to fight back and did win Hole 10, but Hall would not let the match go to all square. Winning Hole 15 and 16, Hall put the match in the bag to win 3 & 2. This made Brian Hall the 2024 Senior Old Warson Cup Champion. 

The Final Match featured Justin Bryant (No. 1) and Chris Kovach (No. 10). Both players worked hard to get to this point. Kovach played 18 holes, 17 holes, and then 19 holes to earn his spot, while Bryant played all 18 holes in each round to earn his place. The pair are tough competitors and have proven they have what it takes to win. Bryant is a former champion and Kovach is looking for his first win here. This match stayed tightly contested from start to finish. It wasn’t until the third hole that Kovach took the lead. On the seventh, he extended that lead to two-up. With Bryant unable to find a win on the front nine, he knew he would need to try a back nine blitz like he had earlier in the day. Bryant successfully won the tenth hole to bring the match back within one. Then it was a back and forth fight between the pair for the next sixteen holes. Kovach got back to two-up over Bryant on Hole 12, but that was mitigated when Bryant drove the green on Hole 14 and then won the hole. A near hole-out from the bunker by Bryant at the fifteenth almost tied the match back up. Knowing who he was up against, Kovach kept moving forward and managed to win the sixteenth to get back to two-up. The match continued to Hole 17 and this is where it came to rest. Kovach made par to tie the hole and win the match. Bryant would fall to be runner-up for a second year in a row, while winning 2 & 1, Chris Kovach became the 26th Old Warson Cup Champion. 

This win for Kovach comes after years of competing in this championship and not being able to break through into the Sunday pairings. In a post-round speech, Kovach mentioned how Old Warson has been a place of success in the past during his golf career, and how this is such a sweet victory to find success here again. We gained two new names for the championship records this year, and the joy of the victory is imminent in the smiles on their faces. Brian Hall becomes the third champion in the Senior Old Warson Cup, and Chris Kovach becomes the sixteenth new name to be added to the Old Warson Cup trophy after the 26th playing of the championship.

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