Walter Kizzie Wins the
2005 APA National Championship
27-28 July 2005 - Louisville, KY - The 46th Annual National APA Championship got underway this week, bringing the nation's top amateur putters to Louisville for 144 hole medal play competition. Last year's event saw 37 APA members from around the country gather for two days of grueling competition in Richmond, and this year's event was just as exciting, with a field of 42 competing for the sport's most prestigious amateur title.
Walter Kizzie of Pittsburg, PA left the Louisville Putt-Putt Course Wednesday with a four round total 114, 13 strokes behind Ricky Schults, the Defending 2004 National Champion who had dominated the first day of competition and was at the top of the leader board. Going into Thursday's final four rounds, Kizzie had his work cut out for him - and work he did. A very determined Kizzie put together rounds of 25-28-24-28 for a Day Two total 105 and an eight round total 219, defeating the Defending Champion by one stroke to win the 2005 APA National Championship.
As Defending Champion, Schults was first on the tee Wednesday morning as the competition got underway on Course #3. 2005 APA World Match Play Champion Anthony Russell, shooting in the same group with Schults was first in the clubhouse with the early lead at 11 under par, and Schults trailed Russell by one stroke. That 11 under par lead would be matched as the next group completed by Frankie Peters, and later by Terry Sanner, Barb Mingo and Bill Petrie. Only Dennis Biesma of Marion, VA would top that score, posting an opening round 12 under par to top the leader board.
As the APA field moved over to the tougher Course #1 for round 2, overall scores in the field would be much higher. Schults made all the right adjustments as the carpets heated and posted the low score for the round at 11 under par for a two round total 51 and began his run at the top of the leader board. With all of the opening round leaders other than Schults having problems in the second round, a new group of five putters emerged and trailed Schults at 55. The group included 2003 National Champion Bonnie White, Ryan Carter, Amy Smith, David Chisum and Larry Smith.
The third round moved back to Course #3. Again Schults posted the low score for the round at 12 under par, giving him a three round total 75 and a 7 stroke lead over Chisum and Mickey DeLucca, both tied at 82. A group of six were two more strokes back at 84, including Kizzie, Peters, Carter, Amy Smith, Larry Smith and Jeff Carr.
The first day final round changed courses one final time to Course #1, and Schults continued his smooth play, firing his final round for the day at 10 under par and a total for the day at 101. In the Cinderella story of the day, young Ryan Carter from Lynchburg, VA, who competed in the JPA National Championship over the weekend and only started practicing this course on Tuesday, was the closest competitor, shooting rounds of 27-28-29-25 for a day one total 109. 1998 National Champion Jeff Brown followed Carter at 111, tied with two time ProPutters.com Classic Champion Jeff Carr.
Larry Smith ended the first day of competition at 112, and Zach Smith, Jason VanBuskirk, Amy Smith and David Chisum were at 113. Tied at 114 was 2003 National Champion Bonnie White, Anthony Russell, Mickey DeLucca - and Walter Kizzie.
The APA field woke up Thursday morning to much cooler conditions, and a much different set of playing conditions. After an early morning practice session to adjust their shots for the different carpet and rail conditions, the APA field went to the tee in inverse order on Course #3.
Schults struggled in Round 5, only posting 5 under par for the round, giving the field a chance to chip away at the lead. Schults was at to top of the leader board after 5 rounds at 132, and Larry Smith and Phil Kosobucki had closed the gap and were only 6 strokes back at 138. VanBuskirk and Kizzie had great Day 2 opening rounds at 10 and 11 under par respectively, and were tied 7 strokes behind the leader at 139. Carter began the second day with a tough first round, slipping back in the field and was in after five rounds at 140, and Brown, Carr and White were tied at 141.
Schults held on in the sixth round as action moved back to Course #1, posting 7 under par for the round and still topping the leader board at 161. Smith matched Schults' 7 under par and was still 6 strokes behind the leader, but VanBuskirk and Kizzie continued to chip away, posting a 7th round 8 under par and was tied with Smith at 167.
Moving back to Course #3, Schults began to get back in form in Round 7, posting 8 under par for the round, and going into the final round he was still at the top of the leader board at 189. That round was huge for Kizzie however, posting 12 under par with a 7 round total 191. Kizzie had all but erased the huge deficit he faced at the beginning of the day and was now in contention for a final round title run. Also in contention was VanBuskirk, who posted a 7th round 10 under par and trailed the leader by only 4 strokes at 193. Tied at 195 was Kosobucki, Carr and Larry Smith, all with legitimate shots at the title.
Schults began the final round on Course #1 strong, acing the first two holes, but Kizzie and VanBuskirk both missed the second hole, extending Schults lead by a stroke. The struggle for Schults was not over however, and he began a string of misses, not acing another hole until Hole 9. Both Kizzie and VanBuskirk continued their consistent play for the day, both getting their totals even with Schults after 7 holes. VanBuskirk would go up one stroke on Hole 8, but gave it back on the next hole. After the front 9 of the final round, Schults and VanBuskirk were even, with Kizzie only a stroke back. Smith continued to chip away at the leaders, and by the end of the front nine was only 4 strokes behind Schults.
The back nine continued to prove difficult for Schults, and again his putts just missed the cup, leaving him with another string of deuce putts and again opening the door for the contenders. An ace by Kizzie on Hole 11 brought him to even with the leaders. An unanswered ace by VanBuskirk on Hole 12 put him ahead by a stroke, and another by Kizzie tied him with VanBuskirk one stroke ahead of Schults.
Schults aced Hole 14, and all three were tied going into the final 4 holes. The trio took par on the difficult Hole 15, and a missed tee shot from VanBuskirk dropped him a stroke behind Kizzie and Schults who both aced the hole.
Kizzie's tee shot on Hole 17 went right to the bottom of the cup, and he moved on to the final hole. With a smooth deliberate stroke, his final tee shot went just right of the cup but came to rest a few inches away, leaving an easy tap in for a final deuce, and 8 under par final round for a two day total 219.
As Kizzie waited for Schults to finish his final stretch, the crowd watched as VanBuskirk's balls continued to just miss the cup. With a final deuce putt on Hole 18, VanBuskirk finished with a final round 8 under par for a two day total 221, two strokes behind Kizzie.
In the last group to finish, Schults tee shot on Hole 17 went right of the cup, leaving a tap in deuce. Needing a final hole-in-one on Hole 18 to tie Kizzie and force a playoff, Schults watched as his tee shot missed the cup. Schults made the deuce putt, but would fall one stroke short of his National Title defense.
This is the first National Title for Kizzie. Kizzie's career resume includes wins in three consecutive years on his home course in Monroeville, PA and the 2003 Great Lakes Tour Championship.
Schults finished second at 220, and Jason VanBuskirk was third at 221. Larry Smith fell off the pace in the final backstretch, but held on to fourth place at 223. 2003 National Champion Bonnie White made a final round charge posting 11 under par for the round and finished with a two day total 224 and a fifth place finish.
Jeff Carr finished sixth at 225, and Phil Kosobucki was a stroke back in 7th place at 226. Tied for the 8th spot was 1998 National Champion Jeff Brown and David Chisum. 2002 World Match Play Champion Zach Smith finished in 10th place and took the final expense reimbursement slot at 229.
The 2005 APA National Championship Trophy was awarded to Kizzie by PPA Commissioner Joe Aboid in a short award ceremony immediately following the match. Joined by his wife. Kizzie thanked Louisville Putt-Putt Course owners Tim and Susan Greenert for hosting the National Championship this week, as well as those that helped him throughout the week.
Tournament summary courtesy of AmPutters.com.