Greg Ward Defeats Andy Coradini in a Playoff for the 2004 Carolinas' Open Title
2 May 2004 - White Lake, NC - For the fourth time in the last five attempts on North Carolina grounds, Greg Ward walked away with a win at the Carolinas' Open. Ward won the title defeating Andy Coradini in a playoff 24 to 27, moments after the two separated themselves from the field with record low rounds in the afternoon.
2004 Carolinas' Open Champion
In the 20th renewal of the Carolinas' Open and the second time in the last three seasons that the event was held at the White Lake location, 36 pros and 15 amateurs took part and had to deal with inclement weather for the second day in a row. There were brief periods of light rain and substantial winds that were evident all morning into the afternoon.
Things got off and rolling with the APA Division teeing off first, followed by the Pros. Vince Batten led the way for the Pros and got off to a great start. Batten fired an opening round 25, which would be matched by four other players in the round. However, it would be Darrell Britt, a previous winner in White Lake, that would grab the opening round lead at 24 to lead by a shot over the five at 25.
2004 Carolinas' Open Runner-Up
A new leader emerged after the second round as Ward fired a 23 to go in at 50. Ward grabbed a one-shot lead over Coradini, Brad Lebo, and Frank Warren. The end of the morning session was completed with Ward still out in front, but had to find himself sharing the lead with Rick Rybaczek. Rybaczek fired a 24 to go in the clubhouse at 76, and Ward shot 26 to create a 54-hole tie for the lead. The contest was tight all throughout the morning. Four other players were a shot off at 77, which included Randy Orr, Greg Newport, Daryl Freeman, and Gary Moore. Three others were two back at 78, including Coradini, Lebo, and Rick Baird. Thomas Rawles completed the group that broke 80 in the morning by finishing at 79.
There was to be a one-hour break for the Pros before teeing off to start the afternoon. That was not the case as a couple of elements inhibited them from starting up on time. First, a heavy storm came through that lasted 10 minutes. Afterwards, there was a four-way playoff in the APA Division at 110 after their fourth round.
2004 Carolinas' Open APA Champion
The playoff consisted of three players going for their first Carolinas' Open title, and one going for his second straight title in White Lake. Ricky D. Schults and Keith Waters were dueling it out through the third round after going in at 80, but both fired final round 30's to go in at 110. Jeff Carr shot 27 and Steve Helton fired a 28 to make it a four-way playoff. It would the first ever APA playoff in the history of Carolinas' Open.
Helton took the lead after acing hole 4 in the playoff and was being threatened just a bit. After the front, Helton was up two shots on Carr and Waters. Schults trailed by three and started a late recovery. Through 16 holes, Helton was still up two on Carr and Schults. All four aced hole 17. Schults was the first up on 18, and aced it. Helton was next, needing a deuce to secure the win. He did one better as his putt cleared the opening and dropped in for his first ever major win in medal play competition. Helton fired a 26 to win by two over Carr and Schults. The win was special for Helton as he recently battled a couple of personal losses in his life with his daughter and one of his closest friends, both tragically passing away over two weeks ago. Helton dedicated his win to his daughter and friend.
The Pros immediately resumed play and it would be Ward jumping out in the next two rounds. Ward, winner of five previous Carolinas' Open, including the 2002 Carolinas' Open played at the White Lake course two years ago, tied a course record with a 22 to take a two-shot lead. He continued to dominate and led by four strokes after the fifth round when he carded a 24 to go in at 122. However, Coradini had an answer to Ward's strong play and would not allow a repeat of Ward's blowout victory in the 1998 Carolinas' Open in Asheville.
Coradini started the afternoon with a pair of 24's to go in at 126 and then fired a 22 in the final round to finish at 148. Down the stretch, Ward needed to ace the last four holes to stay alive. Somehow, he managed to pull through and played out the string to force the playoff. This would mark the second playoff in the Pro Division within the last four years, and just the third in the history. The other playoffs happened in the 1989 Open in Durham and the 2001 Open in the marathon in Anderson.
Both players matched each other in the first three holes, but Ward started to pull away from Coradini on the front. Ward made the difficult fourth hole, followed by a Coradini miss. Ward would then ace hole 6 in front of another Coradini miss. The playoff would then be decided when Coradini lost another stroke on hole 8 when he missed a two-foot deuce putt that would drop him three back of him. Ward would coast on the back to win by three shots, 24-27 over Coradini to capture his sixth Open title and fourth in the last nine events, all on North Carolina soil. Ward has won four of the last five that North Carolina was in charge of the event (1996-Forest City, 1998-Asheville by 16 shots, 2002 & 2004-White Lake). His other two Open titles came in 1990 in Charlotte and in the first event in 1985 in Anderson.
Ward received $300 for the win, got the North Carolina State Qualifying and Match Play spots, and won for the third time this season in the PPA. Coradini settled for second and received $200, the second Match Play spot given from North Carolina, the South Carolina low medal spot into the State Championship, and the World Match Play low medal spot offered from the NC tour. Frank Warren received the two-day low South Carolina State Championship medal spot and the North Carolina low weekend medal play spot into their State.
Rybaczek finished in a tie for third with Jay Klapper, both falling seven shots off the pace at 155. Warren tied Rawles for the fifth position at 157. Two-time champion Greg Newport finished alone in seventh at 158. Batten's defense wound up in eighth place at 159. Baird, Freeman, Moore, and Randy Reeves round out the top 10 with a ninth place tie at 160.
The South Carolina tour will resume its play at Augusta, Georgia in two weeks. They will be playing on the Red Course on the weekend of May 15 & 16. The North Carolina tour gets back to playing on the weekend of June 5 & 6 as they will head north to Lynchburg for a weekend with the Virginia tour on Course 2.
Tournament results provided by Opie Roberts.