Johns Wins Illinois PGA Match Play Championship; Claims Fourth Career Major

May 9, 2024

2024 Harris Golf Cars Illinois PGA Match Play Bracket

Woodstock, Ill. – May 9, 2024 – Travis Johns (Medinah Country Club) defeated Andy Svoboda (Butler National Golf Club), 1up to win the 2024 Harris Golf Cars Illinois PGA Match Play Championship at Bull Valley Golf Club. This marks the second Match Play victory of Johns’ career and the fourth Illinois PGA Major victory of his career. (Match Play Championship 2010, Players Championship 2014, Section Championship 2019).

“It feels great to get the win,” said Johns. “A lot of us have not played much golf before coming into this and Bull Valley is about the toughest test you can find out here whether it’s in the Spring, Summer, or Fall. We are lucky to be out here at Bull Valley.”

Johns got out to a quick start in the Championship Match, winning the first two holes. Svoboda made a birdie on the third hole to cut into Johns’ lead. The two continued to match each other’s shots throughout the front nine. Svoboda hit his approach shot to six feet on the par-4 fourth hole and looked to be in position to tie the match, but Johns poured in a 45-foot birdie putt to remain 1up in the match. Johns then tied Svoboda on the sixth hole after getting up and down from beyond the green on the par-4 sixth hole to stay 1up. The ninth tee was moved up for the Championship Match and both players had wedges in their hands for their second shots. After leaving themselves about five feet for birdie, both players missed their putts and Johns made the turn with a 1up lead.

The match hit its turning point on the par-5 15th hole. Johns conceded the hole on 14 after hitting a tree on his approach shot and the match was tied heading into 15. Both players went for the green in two. Johns left his second shot in the right greenside bunker. Svoboda also came up short, leaving his shot outside the left greenside bunker. Svoboda was then assessed a one-stroke penalty for his ball moving after he addressed it. Johns would make par on the hole and take a 1up lead with three holes to play.

The 16th hole played around 195 yards in the Championship Match. Johns hit his shot to the back of the green and finished off an impressive two-putt to remain 1up with two holes to play. He then two-putted the par-5 17th hole to make par and keep his lead heading to the 18th hole.

With a 1up lead on the 18th tee, Johns hit his tee shot to the right of the fairway. It hit the cart path and rolled under a tree. Svoboda also hit his tee shot to the right and ended up under a tree as well. Both players hit fantastic shots into the 18th green carrying the water in front of the green and rolling towards the flag that was set towards the back of the green. Johns had about 15 feet for his birdie, while Svoboda had about eight feet on the same line. Johns two-putted from there to make par and the stage was set for Svoboda to force extra holes. His birdie bid hit the back of the cup and rolled out, granting Johns the first Illinois PGA Major Championship of the 2024 season. Johns finished the 2024 Harris Golf Cars Illinois PGA Match Play Championship never trailing in a match.

“Andy (Svoboda) is a great player and plays the game like a true gentleman,” said Johns. “He got an unfortunate break there at the end, but I had a lot of fun competing against him today and he is going to win a lot of these (events) going forward.”

Johns earned the ninth seed in the 2024 Match Play Championship based on the 2023 Player of the Year points list. Tuesday turned out to be a marathon day at the Illinois PGA Match Play as weather forced the round into delays twice. Battling through the weather Johns defeated Jami Brighty (PGA Member) in the round of 64, 5and4. He then faced Brandon O’Kray (Onwentsia Club) on Tuesday evening and defeated him, 6and5 to advance to the round of 16.

Johns squared off against the eighth-seed Chris Green (Glen View Club) in the round of 16. Johns got out to a huge 6up lead through eight holes. However, Green would not go down easily. He climbed back into the match after winning three of the next seven holes. Johns put the match away after winning the 16th hole and closing out the match, 3and2 to advance to the Quarterfinals.

Johns ran into the 2023 Match Play Champion, Chris French (Aldeen Golf Club), in the Quarterfinals. The match started close as Johns got out to a 1up lead through six holes. He would expand his lead by winning holes eight and nine to go 3up. From there, Johns never looked back as he only lost one hole on the back nine and closed the match out on the 15th hole, 5and3 to advance to the Semifinals.

The Semifinal Matches took place on a cold and rainy Thursday. Waiting for Johns in the Semifinal Matches was fifth-seeded Brian Carroll (The Hawk Country Club). Neither player was able to build a lead as the duo traded blows on the front nine. Johns eventually took a 1up lead on the seventh hole and did well to keep that lead throughout the match. A par on the 11th hole gave Johns a 2up lead. Johns then birdied the 14th hole and the 16th hole to win the match, 3and2 and advance to the Championship Match for the first time since 2017.

“I was just super happy to see everyone this week,” said Johns. “I played great guys in every match I played. I had an awesome time chatting with those guys and got to play some really great players. I feel very honored to have beaten the caliber of players that I did, but I had a great time out here with everyone.”

The Harris Golf Cars Illinois PGA Match Play Championship marked the first of four Major Championships on the 2024 schedule. The Illinois PGA would like to thank the presenting sponsor and long-time Section Partner, Harris Golf Cars as well as Bettinardi Golf for sponsoring this event. The Illinois PGA circuit will return on Monday, May 13 at Schaumburg Golf Club for the Illinois PGA Stroke Play #1.

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Kevin Quinn
Illinois PGA Communications
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