Gagliano & Van Leeuwen, Pulleo & Dugan capture Medalist Pairs
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – An exciting two days at the 2023 PGA Team Golf Championship at Mid Pines and Pine Needles saw a dominant victory in the Best Ball division and a tight race to decide the Scramble division.
PGA Team Golf is a series for amateur golfers ages 21+ that organizes local golf tournaments in major cities throughout the summer, culminating in an annual National Championship. The 2023 PGA Team Golf Championship featured a 172-player field competing in two formats: Best Ball and Scramble. Each of the participating teams contained two or three pairs of players, with the lowest two-pair scores counting towards their team’s total.
In the Best Ball Team Division, RDUgolf Tour II (11-under par) closed with a 7-under par on Saturday in its home state of North Carolina, easing into a 12-shot victory over three teams: Golf is Hard, Three-Putt Par and ESS all tied for second at 1-over par.
RDUgolf Tour II was led by John Gagliano and Jacob Van Leeuwen, who repeated for the second consecutive year as Best Ball medalists after finishing at 12-under 131 for the Championship.
The duo followed up their 7-under 64 in the first round at Pine Needles with a 5-under 67 on Saturday at Mid Pines. They were joined on RDUgolf Tour II’s score card by the pairs of Mike Lee and Luke Van Leeuwen (2-under 70) in the final round and Sean Webb and Luke Stull (3-over 74) in the first round.
“That was the goal coming in here,” said Gagliano. “Welcome everyone to North Carolina but let them know we still own this state. The experience this week has been great and that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about having fun; none of us are pros.”
Gagliano and Van Leeuwen entered the final round up five strokes in the Best Ball medalists race before ultimately winning by seven over Andrew Tomko and Blakely Burrow (5-under 138) from The Summer of Speed.
The Scramble Division came down to the wire, with Cincinnati Clippers (28-under par) coming away with a one-stroke victory over defending champion The Pitt6 (27-under par). The Cincinnati Clippers were led by Will Efkeman and Brady Heidemann (10-under 61) and Aunders Erickson and Nicholas Braydich (6-under 65), who combined to shoot 16-under par in the final round at Pine Needles.
The score was just enough to hold off The Pitt6, who battled back with a combined 17-under par in the final round after beginning the day three strokes off the lead. The Pitt6’s resurgence was led by Michael Dugan and Matt Pulleo (19-under 124), who took home Scramble medalist honors after carding a 12-under 59 in the final round, highlighted by 10 birdies and an eagle.
“We were making jokes in our house that everyone should go and shoot their age,” said Dugan. “It wasn’t until really 14 or 15 that we really thought that 59 was in range, because that is the age.”
“I’m 29 and he’s 30,” added Pulleo. “And we shot 30 on the front, so we said, ‘Ok we just need a 29 on the back.’ And I’d say once we eagled hole 10, we were like, ‘Ok we can do this. Let’s just throw a few more birdies in and we can do this.’”
TFSU (26-under par), who led after the first round, finished in third in the team Scramble followed by Gimme (19-under par) in fourth and Cabana (14-under par) in fifth.
PGA Team Golf is about more than just the results on the course. Jack West and Isabell Deak, an uncle and niece who played in the Scramble division under the team name Low Expectation, traveled the farthest to the Championship after qualifying in Seattle. With Deak now living in another state, the pair use PGA Team Golf to stay connected.
“She’s living in Colorado, but she used to be in Washington and we were golf buddies,” said West. “So when she was growing up, we played golf all the time together. Then she moved to Colorado for college, and that kind of separated us. But the tournaments bring us back to continue to play golf with each other.”