WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- Yesterday's final day of the 2016 USCA Golf Croquet National Championship featured strong winds as several finals matches played on the the lawns of the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. For the main event, Stephen Morgan seemed relatively comfortable battling the conditions as he cruised to a 7-3 win in game one against Matt Griffith. But Griffith came back strong in game two to snag a 3-1 early lead. But Morgan then pulled off the best magic trick of the event. With a two-foot hoop shot at five, he stroked it through with good speed hoping to achieve a strong position at hoop six. Ultimately, he achieved the best position possible as his ball rolled slowly in and curled enough to run through the hoop. All of the sudden, the game was tied at 3-3.
"Yeah, it had to curl quite a bit to get in there and it had to go against the wind to do it," said Morgan after the game.
From there, momentum swung to Morgan and after a few more tightly contested wickets, he ultimately took a 7-4 game two win to claim his first GC National Title 7-3, 7-4.
FULL KNOCKOUT BRACKET:
Championship Doubles -- Sherif Abdelwahab/David Maloof 7-6, 7-5 over Danny Huneycutt/Rich Lamm (Knockout)
First Flight -- Gil Flowers 7-4, 7-6 over Hal Denton (Knockout)
First Flight Doubles -- Gil Flowers/Stephen Jackson (4-0); Second Place - Ellie Kemp/Karen Connery-Albert (3-1) (Results)
Championship Plate -- Russ Dilley 5-7, 7-5, 7-3 over Daniel Pailas (Knockout)
Championship Bowl -- Jimmy Huff 7-6, 7-3 over Paul Miller (Results)
- The shot of the day was certainly Morgan's 5/6 combo score mentioned above, but he also had an 80-foot clear from the north boundary on Griffith's perfect set at hoop eight that certainly deserves honorable mention.
- With the brief history of the US National GC Championship, there has never been an actual trophy for the event. Cheryl Bromley announced at the Tuesday night dinner that an anonymous donor had made funds available to create a trophy or cup for the championship. And, it will include the names of previous winners.
- The most interesting scoreline for the event had to be John Richardson's 7-6, 0-7, 7-6 quarterfinal win over David Maloof. That actually works out to a 19-14 advantage for Maloof.
- The overall schedule was more aggressive than I had anticipated ... sort of matching the kind of days that you would expect at Selection Eights. That seems fitting for a National Championship. My take is that we are athletes and for a national event, it should be a challenge all the way around ... tight hoops, fast courts and a test of endurance.
- That being said, I thought the schedule worked out well across the board. I might have traded moving up my first doubles match ahead of the singles start, but that's because, I came in late and missed the practice session from that prior day. That's not an approach I recommend.
- The referees were great throughout the event. Clear, decisive and fair. Sherif Abdelwahab watched for a beveled edge shot in one scenario and though the player disagreed it was clearly a beveled edge shot as Abdelwahab called.
- I also found that a lot of players (including myself) at the event are relatively unsure on many of the rules. I am not sure if that is due to the complexity of the rules, the subtle changes or just the situations that vary from US or AC rules.
- Speaking of AC, Selection Eights followed right after GC Nationals and rolled out this morning with four full Eights and a nearly full fifth group. Several players from GC Nationals will be in the Eights. It will be interesting to see how they perform.
- It was noted at the awards ceremony that a few GC events are on deck. A great place to track GC only events is on the companion CroquetNation.com come site where we host a schedule for GC events.
US GOLF CROQUET SINGLES CHAMPIONS
1999 - Sherif Abdelwahab
2000 - Khalid Younis
2001 - Yasser Esmat
2002 - Sherif Abdelwahab
2003 - Stewart Jackson
2004 - Mik Mehas
2005 - Curtis Drake
2006 - Jeff Soo
2007 - Mohammed Kamal
2008 - Leo McBride
2009 - Mohammed Kamal
2010 - Ben Rothman
2011 - Rich Lamm
2012 - Ben Rothman
2013 - Ben Rothman
2014 - Ben Rothman
2015 - Ben Rothman
2016 - Stephen Morgan