Anthony Russell Wins
2005 APA World Match Play Championship
25 July 2005 - Louisville, KY - The 2005 World Match Play Championship returned to Louisville for a 36 hole single elimination shootout to crown the 2005 APA World Match Play Champion. Nearly 40 of the country's best amateur putters were in attendance fighting it out in head to head battle in staggering heat with temperatures reaching the century mark and heat indexes well above that.
Twenty-three year old Louisville local Anthony Russell began his putting career only last year when he started working at the Louisville Putt-Putt Course. After arriving to the course only minutes before his first match in the morning and missing the early morning practice session completely, he worked his way through some of the APA's heavy-weights, leading up to his final match against the much more seasoned Oniel Mercure from Denver, CO. Russell maintained his cool through the final match with Mercure, and would step off Hole 18 on Louisville's Course #1 as the new APA World Match Play Champion.
As one of the field who did not draw the first round bye, Russell had a tough match right from the start, facing Danny Hoel from Oklahoma City, OK. He won that match 3-2, and moved on to the second round match with Bill Combs of N. Huntington, PA. In his third round match, he faced Barb Mingo of North Olmstead, OH, winning that match 5-4.
Standing between Russell and a spot in the quarter-final match was Jeff Brown of North Olmstead, OH, who had just taken down 2004 Defending World Match Play Champion Mike Foster of Smithville, MO 4-2. Russell would not be intimidated though, and prevailed in the match 5-4 for his spot in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile in the top bracket, Mercure, who had a bye in the first round, worked his way first through Scott Biesma, then had to face Scott's father Dennis Biesma from Marion, VA. He fired through those son-father matches 5-4 and 2-1 respectively, then faced off against his traveling roommate Phil Kosobucki. Kosobucki took him the distance, but Mercure prevailed to win the match 1-up, getting his chance to move on to the semi-finals match.
Mercure faced a tough semi-final match against 2004 Defending National Champion Ricky Schults from Spartanburg, SC. The two matched strokes through the first 5 holes, and Mercure was able to finally established a 1 hole lead on Hole 6 when Schults' tee shot lipped the cup. Schults would even the match on Hole 9, then took the lead on Hole 10. The two began trading holes on the back nine, and after the first 18 holes were deadlocked.
Moving over to the tougher Course #1, Schults established a two hole lead after the first two holes, but would immediately give one back on hole #3. He gained back the hole on Hole 5, but then lost the next three holes, and after the front nine on Course #1, Mercure had the lead by one hole. Schults fought back winning back to back holes on Hole 13 and 14 and taking a one hole lead over Mercure going into the final backstretch. Schults tee shot on Hole 16 went into the corner, and Mercure quickly took advantage, getting the match back to even. Mercure sunk the tee shot on Hole 17, but Schults' shot was too firm and stayed left of the cup, giving the 1 hole advantage back to Mercure. Mercure stepped to the tee on Hole 18, and with a smooth stroke sent the shot dead center for the win and moved on to the finals match with Russell.
Russell faced Steve Helton from Spartanburg, SC in the semi-final match. The two started on the back nine of Course #3, where Russell would establish a one hole lead on Hole 12. Helton made up the difference on Hole 15 and after the first 9 holes the two were tied. The two moved over to Course #1, and Russell immediately regained the lead on Hole 1, then extended it on Hole 3. Helton gained one back on Hole 4, but gave it back on Hole 7.
Going into the back nine on Course #1, Russell was up 2, then with a great shot on Hole 10 extended his lead to 3. The two traded Holes 13 and 14, and Russell won Hole 18, giving him a 4 hole lead on the move back to the final nine holes on Course #3. Russell went to work quick, extending the lead yet further on hole 3, and an ace shot on Hole 5 finished the match, moving him on to the final match with Mercure.
Mercure started the final match strong and established a lead on the first hole when Russell pulled his tee shot left of the cup. Mercure's tee shot on Hole 3 kicked left of the cup however, and Russell evened the match. Russell sent his tee shot on Hole 4 to the cup, but Mercure's shot lagged the hole and Russell established the lead for the first time in the match. That lead would hold until Hole 9 when Russell's shot went long on the rail and missed left. Mercure took advantage of the miss and evened the match after the first nine holes.
Mercure's shot on Hole 10 hit the rails perfect, and with a "Just one time!" from Mercure found the cup, and he regained the lead. He then sunk his putt on Hole 11, and Russell overshot the hole, giving Mercure a two hole lead. Mercure's shots on Hole 13 and 14 both lipped the cup, and Russell took advantage of both to even the match yet again. Russell then just lagged Hole 17, and Mercure reestablished the lead.
Mercure had the one hole advantage as the two moved over to Course #1, where the two went stroke for stroke through the first four holes. Mercure's shot on 5 was not firm enough and it drifted off behind the hole. Russell evened the match with a perfect shot. Again the two matched strokes until Hole 9, where Russell's ace shot went unanswered. Russell used that momentum and fired off his shot on the difficult Hole 10 and the ball found the cup. Mercure's shot missed, and Russell established a two hole advantage for his biggest lead of the match.
The two went dry on the stretch from Hole 11 through 14, both making their deuce putts. Russell smartly played the difficult Hole 15 safe for a deuce. Mercure went after the hole and regained the hole as his ball bounced around and rattled the hole, finally coming to rest in the bottom of the cup.
The two matched aces on Hole 16, keeping the one hole advantage with Russell. Mercure pushed his shot on 17, missing the cup. With a chance to end the match, Russell's tee shot on 17 went very wide, giving Mercure one last hope on the final hole. Mercure's final tee shot went just right of the cup and he settled for the deuce. Russell's shot on 18 also just missed the cup but left an easy deuce shot. With an easy stroke, Russell finished the match 1-up for his first World Title.
Tournament summary courtesy of AmPutters.com.