Robert Johnson Fires 74 in
Lynchburg, VA for His First Victory
of the 2005 PPA Season
11 June 2005 - Lynchburg, VA - The Virginia and North Carolina PPA Tours traveled to Lynchburg, VA for the first of two dual-tour events this weekend on course # 2. Due to its high-quality and meticulously-maintained course layouts, this facility, owned and managed by PPA Tour Commissioner Joe Aboid, is always a favorite PPA tour stop among players. On a beautiful, sunny late-spring day, a field of 19 Professionals and 21 Amateurs hoped to take advantage of the outstanding conditions.
2003 PPA National Champion
2003 PPA National Champion Robert Johnson posted opening rounds that were as sizzling as the day's temperatures, firing consecutive 24's to seize a commanding three-stroke lead over the field after two rounds. Johnson found trouble early in the final round, but the wily veteran from Lake Wylie, SC rebounded to post a solid final-round 26, just enough to secure a one-stroke victory over the hard-charging Rusty Taylor. Johnson's 54-hole total of 74 earned him his first victory of the 2005 PPA season, his first win since capturing a North Carolina PPA Tour event in High Point, NC in June 2004.
Due to the rising carpet fibers on the playing surfaces associated with the day's bright sunshine and high temperatures, first-round scoring was not as low as anticipated prior to the tournament. Johnson's opening-round 24 placed him one stroke ahead of PPA Hall of Fame member Daryl Freeman after one round of action. Alone in third place was Manfred Stewart at 26. In a fourth-place logjam at 27 were reigning Virginia State Champion Matt Summey, defending champion Gilbert Sharpe, Vince Batten, Brad Lebo, and Taylor, who valiantly rebounded from an even-par 18 on the front nine by shooting a perfect 9 on the back nine.
As players adapted to the conditions, scoring among the leaders improved during the second round of action. Johnson continued his stellar play in the second round, posting another 24 to open a three-stroke lead at 48. Freeman was in sole possession of second place at 51. Summey and Sharpe shared third place, deadlocked at 52. Still lurking and in a tie for fifth place at 53 were Taylor and reigning 2004 PPA World Match Play Champion Darrell Anderson, who fired a second-round 23.
The second-round leader found trouble early in the third round, missing a short deuce putt on the third hole and making a bogey. On the next hole, Johnson's errant tee-shot set up a very challenging uphill, angled deuce putt. Unflustered, the grizzled veteran courageously holed his deuce effort and regrouped to fire a final-round 26 for a 54-hole total of 74. An inspired clubhouse charge by Taylor fell one stroke short, as his final-round 22, the low round of the tournament, placed him alone in second place at 75. Summey and Freeman finished another stroke back, tied for third at 76. Rounding out the top five at 78 were Anderson and Mike Brown, who moved up the leader board with a final-round 24. The cash line for the nine money spots awarded in this event came at a score of 79.
Greg Newport earned and accepted the spot in the North Carolina State Championship offered in this tournament. Johnson took the available North Carolina Match Play Championship spot.
In the amateur division, all eyes were on Conway Coffey, a local amateur standout whose prowess on course # 2 had become legendary. However, it was reigning 2004 APA National Champion Ricky D. Schults who stole the show, firing rounds of 25, 24, and 25 for a 54-hole total of 74 and a seven-stroke victory over Coffey and Jeff Carr, who tied for second at 81.
In the first round of action, Mark Lawson fired a blistering 23, the low round of the day in the amateur field, to assume a one-stroke advantage over Jeff Carr. Schults was another stroke back at 25. Rounding out the opening-round top five in a tie for fourth place at 26 were Dennis Biesma and Malcolm Shumaker.
Schults continued his consistent play in the second round, shooting 24 to post a two-round total of 49, three strokes ahead of Carr, who was at 52. With respective rounds of 25 and 24, Coffey and Barry Moore surged up the leader board into a tie for third place at 53. Still in striking distance of the lead in fifth place at 54 was Biesma.
Schults made the final round anticlimactic by firing a solid 25 and posting a 54-hole total of 74, seven shots clear of Coffey and Carr, who tied for second place at 81. Youthful John Petrie made a final-round charge up the leader board with a third-round 24, finishing alone in fourth place at 82. Tying for fifth place as well as for the final expense reimbursement spots at 83 were 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White, Biesma, Bill Petrie, Moore, and Shumaker.
The victory was the third of the 2005 PPA season for Schults, whose last win on the Virginia PPA Tour came at the 2004 Virginia State Championship. Also of note is that Coffey's runner-up finish was his sixth second-place finish in the eight events in which he has played on the Virginia PPA Tour this season.
The Virginia and North Carolina PPA Tours will return to action with another dual-tour 54-hole event on course # 2 in Lynchburg, VA beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 12.
Scores and Article provided by Brad Lebo and Rick Rybaczek.