- September 14, 2022
The headliners of PopStroke's $25K Showdown, a part of its PopStroke Tour Championship, held Wednesday through Friday at the venue's University Town Center location, were PGA Tour golfer Rickie Fowler and LPGA Tour golfer Paula Creamer.
The winners were Chris Johnson and Jacob Stasiulewicz.
The two amateur golfers, but professional putters, took down Fowler and Creamer in the $25K Showdown, which consisted of one 18-hole round on the venue's Tiger Red course. Johnson and Stasiulewicz finished three under par while the pros finished one over par. To get into the Showdown, Johnson and Stasiulewicz had to win the Tour Championship's team competition, which was completed Thursday evening. That win netted the pair $20,000 to share, with the $25K Showdown prize money an added bonus.
Johnson said he and Stasiulewicz met while competing in a Major Series of Putting event in Las Vegas in 2017. The pair had a good connection and decided to play together at the same event in 2018, which they did, as well as in 2019. Johnson said they would only play together once per year, and the COVID-19 pandemic put their events on hold for two years.
"We actually thought this was not going to happen again," Johnson said.
They jumped at the chance to play together again when they heard about the PopStroke Tour Championship. Being putting professionals, they were not intimidated by Fowler and Creamer's skills — but they were nervous. They wanted that prize money.
"I had a big putt on hole No. 8, and I could actually feel my hand shake," Stasiulewicz said. "I have never felt that before."
The pair said Fowler and Creamer were cordial on the course and even asked them for advice about which lines to take, which Stasiulewicz said was a cool feeling.
Fowler said he was at the event to have fun, not necessarily to win, but he was impressed by PopStroke's greens — even if they were not quite what he's used to on the PGA Tour.
"These speeds are actually similar to what we saw last week (at The CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina)," Fowler said. "But there's a lot more slope and obstacles (on the Tour). I would say a three or four footer is fairly similar to what you see here. Outside of that, you're hitting different stuff."
Creamer took a different mental approach to the event, stating that she was playing to win, full-stop, though she and everyone else laughed their was through the round when something went wrong.
"It's not many times you can intermix like this in terms of competition, pros and amateurs," Creamer said. "I think putting is a great way to do it. Normally it's not a fair challenge (for the amateurs), but here it is."
The event was taped and will air on Bally Sports networks Nov. 20 and on The Golf Channel Dec. 19 and Jan. 4.