Greg Ward Defeats
Kennedy and Hitt in Playoff
Hole 3 in Asheboro before the tournament. Standing water prompted the committee to rule that any putt from the water was declared good.
Hole 11 was declared unplayable after attempts to remove water around the tee mat were unsuccessful. All players were given a deuce in each round.
15 April 2007 - Asheboro, NC - Heavy rains saturated Willett's Mini-Golf Facility Saturday night and into Sunday morning, prompting a delay in the start time of the final of three installments in Asheboro. Most of the holes were inundated with standing water, where staff members and members of the SPT committee were doing their best to get the holes in playable shape. After numerous amounts of sweeping, it was determined that two of the holes would receive special rulings.
Hole 3 was flooded on the back side of the hill, making a ruling that whenever the ball landed in the water, the putt was good from there. On hole 11, a very long dogleg uphill hole, water surrounded the tee mat, resulting in everyone to automatically score a deuce on the hole. The tournament went on after a delay of approximately 15 minutes.
Players realized that scoring from Saturday would be nothing compared to what they would experience on Sunday. The best round shot in the early going came from reigning National Champion Brad Lebo and former National Doubles' Champion Rick Rybaczek, both turning in a 26 to commence play. Five players, including reigning Southern Putting Tour Player of the Year Rick Culverhouse and previous 2007 winner Greg Ward, along with Caleb Kennedy, Michael Hitt, and former two-time National Champion Lewis Burton, all were a stroke off the pace at 27.
The sun finally would fully peek out for the first time during the weekend in the middle of the second round. Scoring intensely increased in the middle round, but Ward was the only top five leader who actually shot better in the second round. Ward posted a 26 in the second round to grab the lead at 53 and was leading by two over Culverhouse, Hitt, Kennedy, and Lebo. The mad scramble continued on into the third round. Ward and Kennedy were in the same pairing, while Hitt was two groups in back of them.
Kennedy and Hitt had to match their round for the third time in a row. This time, they were able to catch Ward for the lead. Both shot 26 and made up their two-stroke deficit to the leader. Ward, Kennedy, and Hitt finished the afternoon with an 81, and a playoff for the third time in five Southern Tour events this season would decide the winner.
Greg Ward receiving congratulations from players after winning the playoff over Michael Hitt and Caleb Kennedy.
Ward's veteran mastery was too much for the other two. Despite two pars to open the playoff, Ward was leading by one shot over both of the other participants after both lagged the front hill on their tee shots. Ward would start to take the playoff in full command from there. Ward aced five of the final seven holes on the front to finish the first half of the playoff at 13. Hitt and Kennedy both would continue to labor themselves as neither could find the cup. Hitt aced the final two holes to salvage the front nine with 16, and Kennedy did not find his first ace until hole 8, which was complete the front nine at even par.
The two made an effort to fight back, starting with an ace on tenth hole. But Ward would regain the momentum on 12 and aced the next five in succession. Ward cruised to a final score of 26, winning by five shots over Hitt. Hitt secured the Southern Tour single day spot by defeating Kennedy by one stroke in the playoff. Kennedy had the lowest weekend score, making him the recipient of the two-day qualifying spot. Rounding out the top five and missing out on the playoff by one stroke were Culverhouse and Lebo, finishing at 82.
The Southern Putting Tour wants to thank the staff of Willett's Mini-Golf, owned and operated by Mike Willett and his family for a great weekend and the help they provided on getting the course in the best conditions possible. The golf facility was host of a PPA sanctioned event for the first time since 2005.
The Southern Putting Tour will resume its schedule as they head to one of their most popular destinations. In two weeks, they will head to Goldston's Beach in White Lake for another three-event weekend. Two events will be played on Saturday, April 28 at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Following that, the 23rd Carolinas' Open will be held on Sunday, April 29 with a 10:00 a.m. tee time.
Article and scores provided by Opie Roberts and the PPA Southern Putting Tour.