Greg Ward Wins for Second Time in 2005 on PPA South Carolina State Tour
16 April 2005 - Columbia, SC - On a beautiful yet windy day in Columbia, 30 professionals and 18 amateurs prepared themselves Saturday on the eve of the 21st annual Carolinas' Open held at Columbia's Course 2. Amongst the field was the six-time and the reigning champion Greg Ward, who was out in full force to make himself the pre-tournament favorite for Sunday's Carolinas' Open.
2005 Columbia Open Champion
For the first time in over a year (March, 2004), the South Carolina tour is playing their weekend on course #2, where Ward has won on this side on three previous times, including the 2002 Palmetto Classic at the first ever weekend of play there. This weekend was also on the North Carolina schedule and that tour is competing at the Clemson Road facility for the first time in tour history.
Things got underway with Ward leading the parade of Pros as he won the March 13 event on Course 1. Ward opened up with a round of 28, which is average on this course, but would find himself trailing by four shots to Daryl Freeman. A legend in his own right, Freeman began his day with an opening round 24 to lead by two shots over another legend Vance Randall and Jimmy Comer. Freeman would then find out that consistency has to pay off to garner a victory. The 1973 National Champion fell out of the lead posting a 31 in the second round, giving way to Ward who took the lead that he would not relinquish.
Ward shot a second round 26 that put him in at 54 and in a share of the lead with Rick Rybaczek. Freeman dropped to third at 55, and Vince Batten led a group of Virginia representatives with Brad Lebo and Matt Summey in a fourth place deadlock at 56.
Batten separated that pack and made a move on Ward. Batten posted a final round 24, but could not make up enough ground needed to catch Ward. Ward closed out by firing a final round 25 to win his second tournament of the season and earned a World Match Play spot by firing a score of 79.
Batten finished one stroke in back of Ward and finished at 80. Freeman rebounded to finish alone in third at 81. Rybaczek tied Gary English, Tony Jackson and Tony Varnadore for fourth at 83. Batten grabbed the South Carolina State Qualifying spot from this event. The four-shot deficit from Ward is the largest to overcome so far in the Southeast this season.
Ward was not the only player that recovered from a deficit like that as it also happened in the APA Division. Also coming back from four shots down going into the final round was Frankie Peters. Peters climbed from the fourth position in the standings through the second round and shot 28 in the final round to finish at 90. Jeff Carr and Chris Hudson were leading the way with a score of 58, but each found trouble down the stretch. Carr only fired a 32 to send the tournament to a playoff with Peters. Hudson could not find his range, either, and only shot 33 to miss out on the party by one shot.
Three other players also missed out on the playoff for first and two of them had a shot with a great final round. Dennis Biesma, who led the first round and was one out after two, missed his opportunity with a final round 32 to finish at 91. Barry Moore fired a 29, but could not pull out his third win this season in Columbia. Terry Hendrix made a desperate surge to his first APA victory in South Carolina, but his final round 27 was not enough and he also wound up at 91.
Peters continued to play impressive in the playoff and would lead by four shots with six holes to play. Carr came back to pull to within one with two to go and was that way going into the tricky three-pipe hole 18. Carr hit the pipe and missed his deuce. Peters responded by paring the hole for a score of 30 and a two-shot win in the playoff. The win for Peters was his first since June, 2004 and his first ever on the South Carolina tour.
Ward also became the third player this millennium to come into the Carolinas' Open weekend as the defending champion of the Open and would win a tournament on the day prior to the event. Last year, Batten dominated the field in White Lake and posted a seven-shot win on the day before the Carolinas' Open, which he won in Spartanburg in 2003. In 2001, Gary Hester won the tournament in Anderson the day before the Open there. Hester was the defending champion after he won the 2000 event in Winston-Salem.
These two tours will now compete this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. on Course 2 for the Carolinas' Open with Ward out as the defending champion. After that, these tours will compete together again in White Lake in just two weeks, April 30 & May 1.
Tournament results provided by Opie Roberts and Frank Warren.