Greg Ward Wins 2002 Carolinas' Open

5 May 2002 - White Lake, NC - Add White Lake to the collection of places Greg Ward has received a win in the Carolinas' Open. Along with Charlotte, Forest City, and Asheville, Ward won an impressive and unprecedented fourth Carolinas' Open title by four shots over three other players.

Greg Ward making the 215th hole of the 2001 PPA National Championship (Lynchburg, Virginia)..

Photo courtesy of Walter Kolb.

After a day of rain in the community of White Lake, delaying the event on Saturday to make it a prime time start, the North and South Carolina tour programs were blessed with clearing skies, but had to tangle with the wind coming off the lake nearby, creating havoc throughout the entire day on Sunday.

Ward jumped out to the early advantage in the opening of six rounds by firing a 23, in which it included a perfect back nine, the second one he has recorded in a span of eight days. He posted a perfect back last week to close out the event in Fredericksburg, Virginia to lose by one to Robin Ventura. His lead, however, was only one shot. Billy Caudle, Thomas Rawles, Randy Reeves, Tony Jackson, and Kevin Garrett all posted 24's to start out one back of the leader.

By the end of the second round, Ward slipped to a tie for second. A 27 gave him a two-round score of 22-under par 50, but then trailed Caudle by one shot. Caudle took the lead at 49 after firing a 25 for his first ever lead in the Pro Division since joining the Pro ranks in 2001. However, the lead he enjoyed was short-lived as Ward came strong in the third and final round of the morning. Ward posted his second 23 in the tournament to retake the lead by four shots over Caudle and Reeves.

Billy Caudle
(T-2nd in the 2002 Carolinas' Open).

Thomas Rawles
(T-2nd in the 2002 Carolinas' Open).

Tony Varnadore
(T-2nd in the 2002 Carolinas' Open).

After the morning rounds were completed, Ward was in the clubhouse at 73, which was the lowest shot after three rounds since he posted a 71 in his last Carolinas' Open win in Asheville in 1998 and won by an amazing 16 strokes. It matched Gary Hester's and Bill Kirby's score of 73 in Winston-Salem just two seasons ago. The Carolinas' Open record for 54 holes is still held by Tom Butler in the 1993 Open in Charlotte, when he was in at 68.

Caudle and Reeves were tied for second at 77, while Dan Anders rebounded from a horrible Saturday outing to go into a tie for fourth at the break at 79. Michael Hitt, after a disappointing opening round of 31, was also there at 79, while Rick Rybaczek was sixth at 80.

As the Pros were taking their one-hour break, the amateurs played into their fourth and final round, and once again, there were a few surprises in the making. Keith Waters, who failed to win his third consecutive event in White Lake on Saturday, got back in the win column for the first time this season and ended two personal streaks for Tommy Hutchinson. Hutchinson had won four in a row on the South Carolina circuit and three of them being in North Carolina.

Waters fired rounds of 29 and 26 to take the lead for good after the second round with a 55. He then cruised to a four-shot win over Hutchinson. Waters won his first Carolinas' Open crown in his career with a final score of 112. Hutchinson, who won the event in 1997, was second at 116, while Steve Helton finished six back in third at 118.

As the event resurfaced in the afternoon, winds started calming down and the carpet was drying out even further, thus creating humongous low scores for the afternoon. Ward continued to maintain his pace with a front nine 12, but slipped on the back nine to send some players back into contention. Ward's four-shot lead was still the case and stayed that way at the end of each subsequent round.

The race for second turned out to be the exciting part of the championship in the afternoon. Caudle's 28 in the fourth round gave him a score of 105, and was tied with Anders after he posted a 26 in that game, while Tony Varnadore crept back in with a 24 to go in at 106, tied with Randal Smith. In the fifth round, Caudle fired a 27 to hold on to his second place spot at 132, but six players were within three shots of second. One of those was Rybaczek, who tied the course record of 22, originally set by Mike Brown in his 1996 win in White Lake, for a single round to go in the final round tied for third with Smith at 133.

As soon as the final round was completed, Ward had already smelled victory. Ward used a final round 26 to finish the event at 154. Caudle managed to finish in a tie for second with Varnadore and Rawles, each of those two finishing out with a 24, at 158. Hitt wound up in third at 159, and Rybaczek, whose 22 in the fifth round was later matched by Brown in the final round, ended up in sixth at 160.

Ward's win is his fourth in the last 11 events played, all on North Carolina soil. He also won in Charlotte in 1992, in Forest City in 1996, and in Asheville in 1998. Rawles' and Caudle's second place finish is their highest finish ever on either tour. Varnadore's finish is his best since he won in Rock Hill last September.

Qualifying spots that came from this event went to Ward, who picked up State Qualifying spots for both the North Carolina and South Carolina State Championships, and grabbed both the one-day and two-day low medalist spots for the World Putting Championships offered by the North Carolina program. Caudle received the eighth North Carolina Match Play spot taken from this event, and Brad Lebo received the South Carolina two-day low qualifying spot for their State Championship in Spartanburg. Betty Helton won the two-day amateur spot for the North Carolina State Championship to be held in High Point in October.

The South Carolina tour will resume play this coming Saturday, May 11, with a double-header on Course 3 in Spartanburg, and will start at 10:00am. Robert Johnson is the course defender after winning with an impressive score of 67 to set the new South Carolina 54-hole record. The second tournament will commence one hour after the first one is completed.

The North Carolina tour will be back in action on Memorial Day weekend, May 25 & 26, in High Point for the Barbara Nance Memorial, defended by Gary English, and the Wayne Hancock Memorial, defended by Greg Newport. The event will kick off at 12:00pm on Course 1 on the 25th and at 10:00am on the 26th.

Special thanks to the Womble family for providing the PPA with their lodging at White Lake and for their continuous hospitality throughout the entire weekend.

Scores and tournament recap provided by Opie Roberts.

Professional Division of 2002 Carolinas' Open
White Lake
, NC (5 May 2002)

Round PrizeNC
1Greg Ward232723282726154 $ 300.00 40
2Billy Caudle242528282726158 $ 173.00 33
Thomas Rawles243029262524158 $ 173.00 33
Tony Varnadore272629242824158 $ 173.00 33
5Michael Hitt312325302525159 $ 125.00 31
6Rick Rybaczek282725312227160 $ 110.00 30
7Dan Anders282427263026161 $   93.00 26.5
Mike Brown312727262822161 $   93.00 26.5
Gary English302730252524161 $   93.00 26.5
Greg Newport263323243025161 $   93.00 26.5
Randal Smith272529252728161 $   93.00 26.5
Randy Reeves242627302727161 $   93.00 26.5
13Vince Batten293025272526162 $   73.00 22.5
Brad Lebo282528252828162 $   73.00 22.5
15Bob Haizlip272729262826163 $   65.00 21
16Rick Baird292931252327164

$   60.00

Bill Kirby, Jr.293023272629164 $   60.00 19.5
18Peter Neumann302825282628165 $   60.00 18
19Gary Hester302727242830166 $   60.00 17
20Darrell Britt262630262831167 16
21Andy Coradini312927262728168 14
Todd Fowler302732282526168 14
Tony Jackson242830283127168 14
24Larry Simpson282629292929170 11.5
Frank Warren292928272829170 11.5
26Kevin Garrett243230322830176 10
27C. L. Jones302533303029177 9
28Robert Johnson302931323125178 8
29Chris Bunting293028283430179 6
Ray Guthrie342529303229179 6
Bobby Jackson333030322826179 6
32Randy Carter333128313028181 5
33Tommy Barbour303033282833182 5
34Rob Smarzik323026313133183 5
35Gary Moore363028273033184 5
Opie Roberts333431283028184 5
37Michael Cardwell313534313131193 5
38Jay Klapper292931     5

Amateur Division of 2002 Carolinas' Open
White Lake
, NC (5 May 2002)



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