Kevin Lacey and Greg Ward Win
2005 PPA National Doubles Championship
25 July 2005 - Louisville, KY - The 2005 APA National Doubles Championship was held in Louisville, KY. Teams of two matched up for four rounds on alternating courses in hopes to take bragging rights and the National Doubles Championship trophies home. Without a challenge from the Defending 2004 National Doubles Champions Malcolm Shumaker and Marty Handschuh who didn't make the trip to Louisville, the title was up for grabs.
Steve Helton and Ricky Schults, both of Spartanburg, SC prevailed through four tough rounds on alternating courses, and at the end of regulation play found themselves tied with the team of 2002 World Match Play Champion Zack Smith and Josh Russell. Helton and Schults lit up the final backstretch of a playoff round and emerged as the 2005 APA National Doubles Champions.
Temperatures soared near the century mark with heat indexes even higher as 20 Doubles Teams from around the country went to the tees for the first round. The opening round, played on Course #3, was Alternating Stroke, with one person teeing on the odd holes, and the other teeing the even holes. The 2002 National Doubles Champions Jeff Carr and Larry Hoover took the early lead at 12 under par, followed closely by Helton/Schults and the team of Phil Kosobucki and Oniel Mercure, both teams one stroke behind the leaders.
Round two moved over to the more difficult Course #1 for a round of Better Ball. Carr and Hoover smoked the course, shooting an incredible 14 under par for a two round total 46 and set the mark to beat extremely high. Helton and Schults kept the pace with their own round of 14 under par to stay a stroke back of Hoover and Carr. Kosobucki and Mercure held close with a two round total 48, followed by Smith and Garrison who were in after two at 49.
Action went back to Course #3 for a round of Better Ball. Helton and Schults kicked up the pace with a 15 under par round to finish three rounds at 68 and a two stroke margin over Carr and Hoover. Kosobucki and Mercure were still in the game at 72, with Smith and Garrison trailing another stroke back at 73.
The final round was Alternate Stroke on Course #1, and the first of the leaders in the clubhouse were Kosobucki and Mercure, who finished the day at 102. That lead would hold until Carr and Hoover finished, coming in just under the wire at 101. While all eyes were on Schults and Helton to see if they could post less than 33 for the win, Smith and Garrison entered the clubhouse posting an incredible final round of 10 under par for a four round total 99 for the top spot. Helton and Schults would struggle a little in the final round, but was still able to post a 5 under par round to tie Smith and Garrison at 99, setting up the playoff round.
The last playoff for the APA National Doubles Championship was in Martinez GA during the 2002 "Week of Nationals", when James and Paula Gay won against Brittany and David Davis after tying in regulation play with a four round total 103.
As briefed before the tournament, the playoff round was contested as one round of Alternate Stroke on Course #3. Smith and Garrison was first to the tee. Smith's shot on Hole #1 missed on the left lip. Garrison pulled the deuce putt sending the ball back down the hill. Smith's bogey shot missed right of the hole, and Garrison was finally able to sink the double-bogey shot. With an ace shot from Helton who had struggled on the hole earlier in the practice sessions, Helton and Schults were up 3 strokes on the opening hole.
The teams matched aces on Holes 2 and 3. Garrison sunk the tee shot on Hole 4 but Schults' shot came up just short, cutting the lead to two strokes. Garrison would ace the shot on Hole 6, and Schults' shot again came up short, and the lead was down to only a stroke. Both teams matched aces on Hole 7. Garrison aced Hole 8, but Schults' tee shot lipped completely around the cup and the match was tied.
The teams matched strokes through Hole 12. Smith's ace on Hole 13 went unanswered when Helton's tee shot pulled hard left into the triangle. Schults would make the long deuce putt, but the team now trailed for the first time in the match by a stroke.
Smith and Garrison would give that lead back however on Hole 14 when Garrison's tee shot slid the rail and went down the hill. Smith's deuce putt would miss right and the team would settle for the bogey. With an ace shot from Schults, the team would reestablish their lead by a stroke and begin an ace run that would be decisive in the match.
Both teams aced Hole 15, and great ace shots from Schults on 16 and Helton on 17 went unanswered, giving the team a three stroke margin going into the final hole. Schults' final tee shot was just short, but a short tap-in from Helton shut out Smith and Garrison.
The win was the first for the Doubles team from Spartanburg, SC, and Helton's first National Title. The win was the second National Title in two years for Schults, who will defend his National Championship on Wednesday morning in Louisville.
Tournament summary courtesy of AmPutters.com.