Charlotte, NC - Putting whiz Jeff Estep staved off a dramatic rally by the games finest player for a stunning upset in the finals of the $30,000 Professional Putters Association National Championship.
"The greatest day of my life," said Estep, a 19-year-old printing press operator from Dayton, Ohio who defeated Haggerty, the hometown favorite, 2-up for the $10,000 top prize. "Its hard to believe this has really happened."
Estep, now winner of nearly $12,000 in PPA lifetime earnings, scored holes-in-one one eight for the first 10 holes in the scheduled 18-hole match, then watched as Haggerty rammed in holes-in-one on five on the ensuing seven holes to pull within one.
Haggertys bid for a tie ended when he missed a hole-in-one attempt by inches at the final hole. Estep knocked in a 30-foot hole-in-one for the final margin of 2-up and the victory.
"I just got to far behind in the early going," said Haggerty, who has won all of this sports major titles with this one exception. "I had my chance at the last hole. After being four down and being able to make it to the 18th
thats all I could have asked for."
Among Esteps victims in his march to the championship were Gary Benfield, Charlotte, NC; Marc Portugal, Waco, Tex.; Dean Dwiggins, Winston-Salem, NC; Joel Baker, Ft. Worth, Tex.; two-time and defending National Champion Ray Browning, Cleveland, Ohio and two-time World Champion Dick Florin, Atlanta, Ga.
Craig Creasy of Columbus, Ohio charged back after being six-holes down to Joe Furr of Rockville, Maryland to claim his victory in the Amateur National Championship. Creasy defeated Furr 3 and 2 in the scheduled 36-hole match.
A 23-year-old dental technician from Augusta, Ga., Paula Moore Gay, upset Evelyn Florin and defending champion Kim Taylor to win the Ladies Professional Putters Association Championship.
Gay posted scores of 24-30-24-26 104, 40 under par, in claiming her first professional victory and the $1,000 top prize.