Greg Ward Wins
2001 PPA National Championship

12 August 2001 - Lynchburg, VA -  Greg Ward finally has his PPA National Championship. He earned it on his own terms, scoring holes-in-one on 10 of his last 11 holes in the final round of the 42nd Annual $15,000 PPA National Championship at the Putt-Putt Golf & Games family entertainment center on Timberlake Road.

Greg Ward, winner of the 2001 PPA National Championship
(Lynchburg, Virginia).

"Winning the PPA National Championship means so much to me and it was great that my parents could be there to share the moment with me,'' said Ward, who recorded scores of 24-30-26-27-26-25-26-29-24-29-22-24 for a 312 total, 120-under par, for the three-day, 216-hole marathon that concluded on Aug. 12 in the Microwave-like Virginia heat where temperatures reached as high as 100 degrees.

Ward earned $2,500, bringing his PPA career prize money earnings to almost $115,000, while claiming his sixth PPA major crown, the second this season. He won the $10,000 PPA Southern Open in Martinez, Ga., in July. The 39-year-old is the all-time winningest player in PPA history with 135 PPA-sanctioned victories.


Ray Guthrie, runner-up in the 2001 PPA National Championship.

Ray Guthrie III, the 21-year-old from High Point, NC, was second at 316 and earned $1,200.

"I can't think of anyone better deserving to be the champion," Guthrie said. "Greg Ward may be one of the best champions the Professional Putters Association has ever seen. When I was battling Greg out there during the last day of the championship, I kept looking over to his scoreboard and saw those red numbers keep going up. I was like, 'This guy never stops acing.' I said. 'This guy is good.''


Randy Reeves, third in the 2001 PPA National Championship.


Mike Brown, T-4th in the 2001 PPA National Championship.


Kevin Lacey, T-4th in the 2001 PPA National Championship.

Randy Reeves of Montgomery, Ala., the 1997 PPA National Champion, was third at 319, winning $1,100. Mike Brown of Springfield, Pa., the 1996 PPA National Champion, and Kevin Lacey of Cincinnati, Ohio, shared fourth, both at 321 and earning $950 each. Rounding out the top 10 were Brad Lebo, a dentist from Shippensburg, Pa., 324; 1993 PPA National Champion Andy Coradini of Loganville, Ga., 326; Todd Fowler of Duncan, SC, 326; Rick Baird of Pineville, NC, 326; and Robb Titchell of Columbus, Ohio, the 1999 and 1997 APA National Champion, 328.

Don Ferrell of Columbus, Ohio became the oldest man in history to claim the APA National Champion.

"Of my three national championships, this one is probably the most special because of my age," the 67-year-old said. Ferrell recorded rounds of     27-31-29-30-28-26-30-30 for a 231 total, 57-under par, in the 8-round Amateur Putters Association championship that concluded on Aug. 11. Steven Jones of Richmond, Va., was second at 233 and former APA National Champion Jeff Brown of North Olmstead, Ohio third at 234. Ferrell's other two APA National Championships were won in 1986 and 1979.

Still, "PPA National Championship Week" belonged to Ward, who won the $2000 PPA Hall of Fame Classic on Aug. 6 and was voted "PPA Putter of Decade" for the 1990s at the PPA National Championship banquet on Aug. 9. As Ward headed toward victory with holes-in-one on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes, 1973 PPA National Champion Daryl Freeman watched in amazement. "Greg Ward is the best I have ever seen,'' he said. "Better than Neil Connor. Better than Ricky Smith. He definitely deserves to be in the PPA Hall of Fame."

Ward's miss at the 15th hole was insignificant. He aced the 16th and 17th holes and then stood at the 18th tee for his final ace. As his golf ball rolled hard into the cup, Ward's father broke from the gallery to embrace his son in his triumphant moment. His mother wasn't far behind.

"My father had his own scorecard and he was keeping track of what I was scoring on every hole throughout the tournament," Ward said. "When I would lip out of a hole I would look up at the clubhouse and see dad in agony over the close miss, and when I got hot and I made a string of aces he would be about to explode with excitement. "When I made the last hole, there were a lot of hugs and handshakes from my parents and fellow competitors. That was a very emotional moment and I will never forget that day as long as I live. I have won a lot of tournaments in my career, but I would have to say that this was the most special victory of them all."


Gary English

Gary English of Atlanta, Ga., a longtime friend, wept as ward realized his PPA career dream, one that had eluded him for the past decade.

"I couldn't have been happier for anyone than I was for Greg,'' said Lewis Burton, the 1989 and 1998 PPA National Champion from Lawrenceville, Ga. "It was emotional when Bill Kirby won in 1995 in Ypsilanti, Mich., and this was just as emotional for me to see Greg finally win.''


Bill Baus, 2001 PPA Senior National Champion.

Bill Baus of Cleveland, Ohio, who won the PPA National Seniors Championship earlier in the week, called Ward's play in the final two rounds spectacular.

"Greg Ward simply topped off what is an extraordinary career,'' said Baus, who joined the PPA in the 1960s and was runner-up to Tony Cross in the 1970 PPA National Championship in Louisville, Ky. "Greg is certainly the best closer I have ever seen, and is undoubtedly the finest putter to ever play our sport."


Bryan Boyd, 1992 PPA National Champion.

Bryan Boyd, the 1992 PPA National Champion from Bristol, Tenn., was at the 18th hole of Course No. 1 as Ward was swarmed by fellow players.

"My eyes welled with tears as he made the final shot and was instantly embraced by his father and mother," Boyd said. "I can honestly say that I could not have been happier if I had won it myself. Greg already is our greatest champion, and now he has our greatest title. He will represent the PPA and Putt-Putt Golf Courses of America with great honor and dignity. It was a fitting end to a rebirth season for the PPA. And when Bill Kirby paraphrased Putt-Putt Golf founder, the late Don Clayton, telling Greg that 'God smiled on you today,' he could just as easily have said 'God smiled on all of us today, this week, and this year.' I am so excited about the future of the PPA and Putt-Putt Golf. The sky is the limit, and we have a few friends up there to show us the way."


Jeff Brown, 1998 APA National Champion.

Jeff Brown of Columbus, Ohio, 1998 APA National Amateur Champion, joined in the accolades for Ward.

"His PPA National Championship was certainly long overdue, and well deserved," Brown said. "It was nice to see Greg win the only title that had escaped him, and verifies him as the best putter in the game today."

"Even more exciting to me as an amateur was witnessing Don Ferrell, at age 67, winning his third national championship. To have won three nationals over a period of four decades is an absolutely incredible feat. I have to wonder if anyone has ever accomplished such a feat in any other sport. It was a thrill to be a part of that. "My hat is off to probably the best run nationals week that I've attended, and I've played every nationals since 1986," Brown said. "Joe Aboid has the best maintained course that we play, and everything was done with the players in mind. Overall, a great week for putting."

Ward, known as much for sportsmanship and modesty as his playing skills, said he is moved by the comments of some of the game's greats.

"I was really touched by some of the comments that were made by some of the all-time great players in our game - Daryl Freeman, Vance Randall and Buddy Taylor," he said. "For them to say that I am the best player in the history of the game means so much to me. I do not even know what to say. I am truly honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with some of the great players that we have had in our sport's history.

"I know that a lot of players strive to win that one big tournament that they have never won, and then they retire from the game once they win that tournament," he said. " Not me. I love the game and I love the people that play the game. I will be out there again next year trying to win every time I tee it up. I am sure I will not win every tournament, but I sure will have fun trying."

Bill Kirby Jr., PPA executive director, called "PPA National Championship Week" and the 2001 PPA season rewarding for the Professional Putters Association.

"We not only have a great champion in Greg Ward, we have an even greater role model," he said. "We are proud of all of our champions, and we are equally proud of our membership. I think back on the week with much pride in our players. Ken Hastings, although he lost to Vince Batten in our televised PPA proputters.com National Match Play Championship, was so gracious in defeat. It was moving to all of us to see Bill Baus win the PPA National Seniors Championship, particularly knowing that he lost his mother less than two weeks before. It was tender to see Dan Switzer, owner of our Putt-Putt Golf & Games franchise in Springfield, Ohio, weep after winning his first Junior Putters of America Championship after 20 seasons of trying. We are proud of the Springfield team and we are proud of Bennie Williams, our JPA National Champion."

"We are grateful to Putt-Putt Courses of America, Trish Clayton, David Callahan and Brian Smith of the Putt-Putt National Board of Directors for believing in our membership and giving us an opportunity. We are grateful to franchise owners such as Joe and Terri Aboid, Bill Chrysan, Dan Switzer, Mark and Liz Ross, Bobby Gilmore and Brian Patterson, and so many more who opened their courses and allowed us venues to stage our events. Without these people, particularly the franchise owners, there is no PPA. And We are appreciative to our 2001 PPA National Players Board of Advisors, particularly Rick Baird, Andy Coradini and Peter Neumann."

"We had phenomenal media coverage - from Sports Illustrated to Fox News to USA Today to USA Today Live - and we cannot thank them enough for taking an interest in our sport."

"And, I can never say enough about our players," Kirby said. "They are the heart of our organization - men and women who are passionate about this game and this sport. We developed a season with them in mind. We were committed to earning their confidence and their trust. I hope, and I believe, that we did. Now it is time to build on what we have enjoyed this season. We are committed to formulating a better 2002 PPA. We are committed to building a better 2002 Junior Putters of America program. We will announce a 2002 PPA National Players Advisory Board with some new faces. Not that we are not grateful to those who served this season, but to give some of them a rest so that they can concentrate on their own games for 2002. We will look to develop our PPA National Seniors Championship and our PPA National Doubles Championship. And we will be looking to recruit players from the past as well as future pros and amateurs. It was a grand week, a great season. But there is work to do."

Leaders of 2001 PPA National Championship by Round

1st Round LeadersDave Taylor, Mark Hasty and Bryan Boyd23 (13-under par)
2nd Round LeadersKevin Garrett, Vince Batten, Lewis Burton, Rich Gillooly, and Bill Baus51 (21-under par)
3rd Round LeadersVince Batten and Kevin Lacey76 (32-under par)
4th Round LeaderKevin Lacey101 (43-under par)
5th Round LeaderKevin Lacey129 (51-under par)
6th Round LeadersVince Batten, Randy Reeves, Greg Ward and Ray Guthrie158 (58-under par)
7th Round LeaderMike Brown181 (71-under par)
8th Round LeaderMike Brown212 (76-under par)
9th Round LeaderRay Guthrie236 (88-under par)
10th Round LeaderRay Guthrie263 (97-under par)
11th Round LeadersRay Guthrie and Greg Ward288 (108-under par)

Scoreboard from the 2001 PPA National Championship
(Lynchburg, Virginia - 10-12 August 2001)

RoundPrize
Player123456789101112TotalMoney
1Greg Ward243026272625262924292224312

$ 2,500.00

2Ray Guthrie262925252924262923272528316$ 1,200.00
3Randy Reeves243028232825262924282430319$ 1,100.00
4Mike Brown272726253223213129282527321$    950.00
Kevin Lacey242824252830253325262528321$    950.00
6Brad Lebo272829302826222922282530324$    800.00
7Andy Coradini252828243025252930262531326$    575.00
Todd Fowler283227262723272729262628326$    575.00
Rick Baird243229232827263027272825326$    575.00
10Robb Titchell302926292928242827292524328$    450.00
11Vince Batten252625262828283029302430329$    400.00
12Tony Varnadore302927283028262725302525330$    337.50
Frank Warren282830292527262929302128330$    337.50
Dean Dwiggins253126233326262827282829330$    337.50
Bill Baus272431263126252628292730330$    337.50
16David Lynch253029232929253028292926332$    285.00
Todd Barfield302826293328272727312422332$    285.00
18Peter Neumann293324272929262826292627333$    270.00
19Lewis Burton252628283028263030302726334$    248.75
Greg Newport243027252728223529322827334$    248.75
Richard Gillooly262529273128272727262734334$    248.75
Dave Taylor233127292826263127342230334$    248.75
23Cliff Mathews272828243225283427292627335$    235.00
24Lee Messinger262926263132272733302425336$    227.50
Jim Cruse242831263326272928282531336$    227.50
26Charlie Greenwalt282827283125262628312931337$   215.00
Tony Jackson283326253131282629292725338$    215.00
Jeffrey Smith313227292923263026302728338$    215.00
29Tony A. Pack292929253128273030272529339$    135.00
Darrell Britt273230303030252828292426339$    135.00
Roger Beckerman252927293129242831312728339$   135.00
32J. Robert Johnson303027322630262927292529340
John Bambling253130253024283033322428340
34Tom O'Brien243130253027273127282832340
35Dave Nutini272830252924243433302928341
36Jimmy Mott262733313127213029322827342
Rusty Taylor263129253730262827302330342
Ken Hastings263228292726302924322930342
39Paul Sample292729252932283329292726343
Gary Moore313125293328283027302625343
41C. L. Jones282829263133273031262728344
Danny Dore282826313125282931283029344
Paul Johns282830293530262529272631344
Mark Hasty233027253533263030272929344
Buddy Taylor313126282932263027292629344
Bill Kirby, Jr.263229262927303129302827344
47Jeff Spainhour293128292930272932312525345
Michael Hitt273533262833243028282726345
49Jay Hadsell253130293026263032302632347
Kevin Garrett242731293226253132342630347
Thomas Gross273126273230273032292630347
Daryl Freeman273230293031232732302729347
53Gary English313029292927303131282627348
Vance Randall303032252725283334302826348
55Thomas Rawles283030252928293133302630349
Jim Engel263131303028262731292733349
James Heikkinen262828312930282930272934349
58Todd A. Viau292733272627293430313027350
Bryan K. Boyd233333283028303131302330350
Chris Bunting312828273224253229343030350
Jay Klapper293425293026273232322826350
62Mike Flavin293626302930262830292929351
63John Ventura293326313128263231282631352
64Bill Thompson323133282929283228302429353
Gene Reams262633312829353025313128353
66Rick Alessi273133283028263033312929355
Bob Davis283332283229273130292531355
68Billy Caudle283426313324302833352529356
Craig Williams333429283225263130302632356
Ed Grajewski273134282830292931312731356
71Alan Quinnelly313026303336252734262435357
Tommy Barbour333130232927273033372730357
73Karl Moe303227283425343228322729358
Rick Rybaczek323231263128253131342730358
75Mike O'Rourke253229263129283231332736359
Opie Roberts303432303627272831282432359
77Gary Benfield273334293228293331312528360
78Gilbert O. Sharpe III323327322630263333322929362
79Bart Bason293031283231263431322732363
80Jody C. Comer323327272833292930323233365
81Robert Ward283533293732343028272330366
82Glenwood Arrington273134292730323131332834367
83Gary Hinshaw273632323033333230313026372
Bob Haizlip313037323427303132342529372
85Manfred Stewart353429323331293230292832374
86Barbara A. Mingo283634283332333032323126375
87David Abshire333336303235303932342833395
88Dom Perry3231323235323131WD
89Al Simpson29343229WDTOAC
 

 

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