1985 P. P. A. Champions Crowned
Greensboro, NC - July 1985 - The top professional, amateur, and novice
putters in the United States gathered in Greensboro, N with one goal in mind - to
determine the 1985 Professional Putters Association National Champions. The talented field
of over 200 players promised to make the three day event an exciting one. No one was
The National Medal-Play championship featured eight rounds (144 holes) of
putting competition. Each player's accumulated strokes over the eight rounds determined
the winner, that player having the least number of strokes.
In the National Medal-Play Pro Division, 21-year old Alan Quinnelly from
Chamblee, Georgia claimed the title in impressive style over Oklahoman, Greg Sandlin.
Quinnelly fired a final round score of 21, scoring aces on 16 of the 18 holes (including
the first 14 in a row) as a large gallery cheered his efforts to record a perfect score.
1"This is an unreal experience," said Quinnelly, following the tournament. A
former JPA National Juniors Champion in 1978, Quinnelly credits the Juniors Putters of
America league for creating his interest in the sport of putting. "Then I moved to
amateur status for 3 years and learned how the pros play," he said. A fourth year
pro, Quinnelly looks forward to defending his title for years to come. "I want to win
as many championships as I can."
The National Match-Play Championship featured player versus player in
36-holes of competition. Unlike Medal-Play competition, match players compete for holes
rather than strokes. The player with the lowest score on a particular hole wins that hole.
In the National Match-Play Pro Division Finals, James Christina of
Rockville, Maryland used 12 aces to defeat David Jones of Warren, Ohio and earn the title.
Jim Christina, a podiatrist by trade, returned to the PPA this season after finishing his
studies and graduating from medical school. "I just wanted to convince myself that I
could play well again. This feels super." Christina saw his lead cut from five holes
to even in the final round, before Jones recorded two bogeys late in the match. "When
we got to the back 9, I thought I had it won," said Jones. "I just shot terrible
on hole 16 and James played well." As for his newfound notoriety, Christina looks
forward to returning home with the National Title. "I know the other players will be
gunning for me now," said the champion.
The 1985 Professional Seniors Division Champion, David Gies from
Winston-Salem, NC, called his win a comeback after firing a four round total of 111 to win
the title. "I've been out of the game for a while," said Gies, Manager of the
Putt-Putt Golf Course in Winston-Salem, NC. "This is the first National Championship
I've played in since 1977." Gies, 30, used his veteran skills in preparing for the
tournament. "I practiced enough to get that mental confidence back and I ended up
laying pretty well," he said. A National Amateur Champion in 1972, Gies has been
putting since he was 14. He has appeared in the PPA Television Putting Series and although
he may still be young in years, David Gies has used his experience to claim the Seniors'
title for 1985.
Columbus, Ohio resident, Paul Johns, is also experienced in winning
titles. The defending National Amateur Medal-Play Champion, Johns, not only claimed the
title again this year, but went on to win the Amateur Match-Play Championship as well.
Johns also won the Amateur National Match-Play Championship in 1982. Johns is only the
second player in the history of the PPA to successfully defend his National Amateur
Medal-Play title. Lewis Burton of Chamblee, Georgia defended his National Amateur
Medal-Play title in 1980 and 1981. Johns is the first player to win both the Medal and
Match Play Championship in the same year. "I did what every amateur dreams of,"
said Johns of his victories. "But I knew it was going to be difficult."
"To win both titles really surprised me," he said. "I
wasn't playing very well and hadn't won any tournaments at home (Columbus)." Johns,
26, relied on intense practice to restore his putting stroke. He arrived in Greensboro one
week before the start of the tournament to learn the shots. "It takes practice. You
have to know what you're doing," he said.
Johns knew what he was doing on his way to winning the titles. In the
National Amateur Medal Play Championship, he withstood challenges from several players and
finally pulled away in the final round to win by 7 strokes over Judy Howard from Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma. "Some shots weren't falling in the early rounds so I had to change
them as the tournament went on," he said. "My goal is to keep all my rounds in
Johns carried his momentum into the Match-Play Championship, defeating
Michael Bell of Columbus, Ohio in the finals to win the title. Ironically, both Bell and
Johns play at the Refugee Road Putt-Putt Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio.
Johns record setting performance convinced him to turn professional next
year, much to the delight of the other amateurs in Greensboro. "They all want me to
turn pro," he said. "It's time to move up. I know it will be hard, but I'll have
to try harder and practice more."
Hard work earned John Halmans of Charlotte, NC the National Amateur
Seniors Championship. The 70-year old, six year veteran of the Amateur Putters Association
fired a for round score of 130 to hold off his competition (which included his wife Gertie) and claim the title.
Mike Pennington of Lansing, Michigan claimed the National Novice
Medal-Play Championship with a 265 total for eight rounds. Julian Cox won the Novice
Match-Play Title. Genia Burgess of Fayetteville, NC finished second in both Novice events.