Brad Lebo Fires Second Day 96
for Second Consecutive
North Carolina State Championship
20-21 May 2006 - High Point, NC - At the completion of last season's North Carolina State Championship, Brad Lebo had one thing in mind - to successfully defend. In one of the more ironic occurrences in the tour history, Lebo backed up his statements and prevailed by driving his way to the title with low scoring on the second day, much like the way it ended last season. On the more difficult Course 2 in High Point, Lebo mastered his way to the top with three rounds of 23 or better, including a 22 to start his second-day surge. From there, Lebo escalated his positioning from just barely out of the top ten into a successful triumph. In the 2006 campaign, he was trying to accomplish a feat that had not happened in 20 years - win the North Carolina State Championship in consecutive years.
2005 and 2006 North Carolina State Champion
His feat was nearly tarnished early in the weekend when he shot a round of 31 to start. That put him in a four-way tie for 34th in the 39-player State Championship field, the largest of this event since 1990.
Lebo had trailed Bob Haizlip by nine strokes after the opening round and fell behind even further - 12 strokes through 36 holes. In the final two rounds on Saturday, Lebo placed himself back in contention with rounds of 25 and 22 to cut the massive lead to just three strokes after play ceased. Rick Culverhouse and Rick Baird each held leadership privileges at 103, with Haizlip tied with Randal Smith at 104, and Jay Klapper at 105. Lebo entered the Sunday half of the eight-round event tied with Rick Rybaczek for sixth at 106. Last year, he trailed by eight to Smith after the first day before his impressive run was established.
Haizlip, who led through the first three rounds on Saturday, reclaimed sole possession of first after firing a fifth round 25. Culverhouse dropped to second with a 28, and Lebo was right there with him with the first of his three 25's. Through the fifth round, Haizlip was the leader at 129, with Culverhouse and Lebo each within two of the lead.
Haizlip continued to roll at the start of the sixth round and took a five-shot lead through nine holes. Haizlip aced the first eight holes of the round and missed his opportunity to have the second perfect nine of the weekend on tour when his tee shot on nine was missed. That was only the start of things for the retired textile manager because on the very next hole, Haizlip played the multi-rail shot on 10 and got into some serious trouble.
After walking off the hole with a four, his lead was still three shots and it stayed that way into the 14th hole. Lebo aced the very difficult inverted T-hole to shave off one stroke from Haizlip and continued to mount pressure on Haizlip down the stretch.
Lebo made hole 16, his final ace of the six recurring holes and of the round, to move to within one. Lebo then would find himself in the lead, but not on his own accord. Haizlip missed his tee shot on 17, then lipped out the deuce putt and still was in danger for his third putt. After missing that putt, Haizlip tapped in for a double-bogey four and it would be the last time he would notice any of the lead.
Lebo finished the round with his second 25 of the day and grabbed the outright lead at 156, holding a one-shot advantage on Haizlip. Lebo's flawless actions prolonged in round seven. He would post the best round of the weekend with a 21 to take himself out of the pack and finish off the round with a seven-shot lead.
With one round to play, Lebo was in at 177, with Haizlip in second at 184 and Culverhouse in third at 186. Neither of the chasers would come close to Lebo, although Culverhouse jumped out of the gates with a 10 on the front and passed Haizlip.
Lebo fired a final round 25, his third of the day, and completed his incredible run to the winner's circle for the second straight year. Lebo finished the two-day, 144-hole event with a score of 202, ironically the same score he posted on Course 2 last season. Culverhouse came in second at 210, and Haizlip was third at 212. Lebo shot 96 for the final four rounds and also became the first player in the history of the tournament to trail by double digits after a completed round and come back to win the State Championship.
Lebo also became the first professional since 1985-1986 to win the North Carolina State title in successful seasons. Terry Phillips won his back-to-back titles also in High Point and in Greensboro.
Culverhouse's second place output was his best finish in a State Championship since 2004, when he ironically lost to Lebo in the South Carolina State Championship. Lebo took home an extra $300 for his victory on Sunday, while Culverhouse pocketed $250.
Other top finishers include Greg Ward at 213 for fourth, Michael Hitt in fifth at 215, and a four-way tie for sixth at 217 featured Rick Rybaczek, Greg Newport, Vince Batten, and Randal Smith. Finishing out the top ten in a five-way tie were Baird, Frank Warren, Jimmy Comer, and Robert Johnson and Andy Coradini (both who were down toward the bottom of the standings early).
Special thanks to Chris Grainey, Randy Carter, and the staff of the High Point facility for providing the course once again. The High Point course will be the host site for the 1st annual Southern Tour Championship, later in October.
The Southern Tour resumes their action in Spartanburg on the weekend of June 10 & 11. A medal play event will take place on Course 2 on Saturday, June 10, beginning at 10:00 a.m. After that, the first annual Southern Tour Match Play Championship will be held thereafter. On Sunday, June 11, Ray Guthrie will be defending his Palmetto Classic title. The 10th annual event will get underway at 10:00 a.m.
Article and scores provided by Frank Warren, Opie Roberts and the PPA Southern Putting Tour.