Greg Ward Captures 2008 PPA Southern Open Title

Greg Ward

22 June 2008 - High Point, NC - On a sunny but breezy early summer day, a field of 54 professional and 30 amateur players contested the 2008 season's second PPA National Tour event, the 72-hole PPA Southern Open. PPA Hall of Fame member Greg Ward staged a brilliant final-round charge to capture his second-consecutive PPA National Tour title. Ward fired rounds of 22, 25, 27, and 23 for a 72-hole total of 97 and a one-stroke victory over tenacious local standout Randal Smith. Despite a solid final-round 24, Smith settled for runner-up honors at 98. Another High Point local stalwart, Greg Newport, shot 101 to tie for third place with 1997 PPA National Champion Randy Reeves at 101. Third-round co-leader Kevin Lacey struggled to a fourth-round 29 but held on to complete the tournament in fifth position at 102.

Action commenced with Ward seizing the opening-round lead with a magnificent round of 22. Hovering a stroke behind Ward in a second-place tie at 23 were Newport and two-time PPA National Doubles Champion Rick Rybaczek. Reeves and five-time Texas State Tour Champion Jeffrey Smith shared fourth position at 24.

Rybaczek carded a second-round 23 to leapfrog into a tie for the 36-hole lead with Ward at 47. Randal Smith and Lacey stormed into a third-place tie at 49 with respective second-round scores of 22 and 23. A six-way, fifth-place logjam at 51 included Reeves, 1997 Palmetto Classic Champion Allen Wall, 2007 North Carolina State Champion Jeff Carr, 2004 North Carolina State Champion Gary English, Jeffrey Smith, and 2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper.

The tournament leaders became even more tightly bunched after 54 holes of play. 2007 PPA Tournament Players Champion Vince Batten made the biggest move of the event's penultimate round, firing a tournament-low round of 21 to soar into a tie for the lead with Lacey at 73. Ward and Randal Smith lurked just a stroke off of the lead, deadlocked in third place at 74. Rybaczek stood alone in fifth position at 75. Grouped in a four-way, sixth-place tie at 76 were Newport, Reeves, Wall, and Carr.

The final round ultimately morphed into a two-player shootout between Ward and Randal Smith. Carding a blistering final-round 23, Ward prevailed by a single stroke with a 72-hole score of 97. The victory further padded Ward's storied career resume and as well gave him his second win in as many starts on the 2008 PPA National Tour schedule. Earlier in the season, Ward captured the 2008 PPA Western Open in Lake Charles, LA. Despite a strong final-round 24, Randal Smith was forced to settle for a second-place finish at 98. Newport and Reeves matched fourth-round 25's to move into a tie for third position at 101. Third-round co-leaders Lacey and Batten both endured disappointing final rounds. Lacey shot 29 to cling to a fifth-place finish at 102. With a last-round 34, Batten dropped into an eight-way tie for 16th place at 107, which also was the cash line for the 22 money spots awarded in the event.

Larry Hoover

In the amateur division, the tournament developed into a battle of local amateur talent, as five of the top six finishers were products of the High Point local weekly tournament program. Two-time APA National Doubles Champion Larry Hoover magically turned what began as a 2008 cameo appearance on the PPA Tour into his first individual National Tour amateur title. After opening the tournament by posting lackluster rounds of 28, 28, and 27, Hoover crafted a masterful final-round 21 to pole-vault up the amateur leader board and cruise to a three-stroke victory with a 72-hole total of 104. Prohibitive pre-tournament amateur division favorite Ray Guthrie notched second place honors at 107. Third-round leader Ben Blake dropped into third position at 109 by virtue of a disappointing fourth-round 31. At 110, former PPA professional Billy Caudle finished in fourth place. Unheralded amateur David Gregor turned in a stellar performance, tying 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White for fifth position at 111.

Play began in the amateur division with some sluggish field scoring. Guthrie grabbed the early lead at 25. Gregor and Jared Whitaker each posted 26 to share second position. A fourth-place tie at 27 included the recently red-hot Mark Lawson and Augusta, GA's Art Koerber.

Guthrie continued his solid play through 36 holes, carding a second-round 26 to take a two-stroke lead at 51. Firing 25, Blake jumped into second place at 53. Gregor stayed in contention, tied for third position at 54 with 2006 PPA Women's National Champion Vanette Block, who posted a second-round 25. Former High Point, NC Golf Association President, long-time PPA professional, and gallery favorite Robert Ward shot a second-round 27 to move into a three-way, fifth-place tie at 55 with Lawson and 2007 APA Senior National Champion Larry Smith.

The amateur competition remained heated through three rounds. With a third-round 25, Blake wrestled the 54-hole lead from Guthrie at 78. Guthrie remained within a stroke of Blake's lead, in second place at 79. Gregor recorded a third-round 26 to maintain possession of third position at 80. Carding a third-round 25, White maneuvered into a fourth-place tie with Block at 81.

Mired in a sixth-place tie after 54 holes, Hoover took full advantage of the final-round difficulties which seemingly were pandemic among the third-round leaders. Hoover steamrolled to the top of the final leader board with a spectacular fourth-round 21, giving him a 72-hole score of 104 and a surprisingly easy three-stroke victory. Guthrie shot a fourth-round 28 to earn a second-place finish at 107. With a final-round 31, Blake fell into third position at 109. Shooting a fourth-round 26, Caudle leaped into fourth place at 110. At 111, Gregor and White shared fifth position. The final of the twelve amateur division expense reimbursement spots awarded in the event fell at a score of 115.

The PPA National Tour membership would like to extend thanks to course manager Chris Graney, host PPA professional Randy Carter, and their staff for welcoming the tour to the beautiful High Point, NC Putt-Putt Fun Center and hosting a weekend of very successful tour events. The tour players were greatly appreciative of the diligent efforts made to maintain the course in outstanding playing condition for the 2008 PPA Southern Open. The PPA National Tour returns to action with the contesting of the 72-hole 2008 PPA Northern Open on course # 3 in Louisville, KY beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2008.

Article provided by Brad Lebo

Professional Division of the 2008 PPA Southern Open
(High Point, NC - Course # 1 - 22 June 2008

  Round NationalPrize
1Greg Ward2225272397100.00 $   575.00
2Randal Smith272225249898.00 $   435.00
3Greg Newport2329242510195.00 $   340.00
 Randy Reeves2427252510195.00 $   340.00
5Kevin Lacey2623242910292.00 $   250.00
6Michael Hitt2726252510389.00 $   220.00
 Allen Wall2724252710389.00 $   220.00
8Jeff Carr2526252810486.00 $   200.00
9Brad Lebo2527272610578.00 $   163.00
 Rick Rybaczek2324283010578.00 $   163.00
 Gary English2526282610578.00 $   163.00
 James Weber2824262710578.00 $   163.00
 Rick Culverhouse3125222710578.00 $   163.00
 Robert Johnson2726262610578.00 $   163.00
 Randy Carter2630232610578.00 $   163.00
16Charlie Greenwalt2826262710763.00 $   116.00
 Tony Jackson2826272610763.00 $   116.00
 Jeffrey Smith2427282810763.00 $   116.00
 Frank Warren2630242710763.00 $   116.00
 Tony Varnadore2628252810763.00 $   116.00
 Tom O'Brien2824253010763.00 $   116.00
 Vince Batten2527213410763.00 $   116.00
 Bill Kirby Jr.2728252710763.00 $   116.00
24Ricky Schults2629262710849.43 
 Jay Klapper2724273010849.43 
 Stan Seethoff2529272710849.43 
 Jimmy Comer2829272410849.43 
 Nate Nichols3029242510849.43 
 Danny McCaslin2825292610849.43 
 James White2727272710849.43 
31Rick Baird2826292610943.50 
 Kevin Martin2725273010943.50 
 Barry Moore2627302610943.50 
 David Jones2728262810943.50 
35Mark Hasty2725273111041.00 
36John Bambling2927272811138.50 
 Jerry Pinotti2728312511138.50 
 Dennis Biesma3025292711138.50 
 Tim Greenert2925302711138.50 
40Jon Drexler3127272711235.00 
 Bill Baus2929262811235.00 
 David McCollister3026263011235.00 
43Matt McCaslin3026263111332.50 
 Randy Orr2631312511332.50 
45Caleb Kennedy2930272811430.00 
 Steve Toomey2928263111430.00 
 Steve Shively2830282811430.00 
48Bob Haizlip2930292811628.00 
49Frankie Peters3226273211727.00 
50Howard Bryant2930302911826.00 
51Paul Johns2931293011924.50 
 Steve Lyon2831303011924.50 
53Chris Alley3031313112322.50 
 Andy Coradini2931333012322.50 

* Players listed in bold and italic font earned a qualification spots into the
2008 PPA Tournament Players Championship

Amateur Division of the 2008 PPA Southern Open
(High Point, NC - Course # 1 - 22 June 2008

  Round NationalExpense
1Larry Hoover28282721104100.00 $     40.00
2Ray Guthrie2526282810798.00 $     40.00
3Ben Blake2825253110996.00 $     40.00
4Billy Caudle2928272611094.00 $     40.00
5David Gregor2628263111191.00 $     40.00
 Bonnie White2828253011191.00 $     40.00
7Clayton Craft2928292611288.00 $     40.00
8Vanette Block2925273311485.00 $     40.00
 Larry Smith2827283111485.00 $     40.00
10Todd Trent2932252911580.00 $     40.00
 Travis Robinson3229292511580.00 $     40.00
 Jared Whitaker2631302811580.00 $     40.00
13Robert Ward2827283311675.00 
 James Lebrun3130302511675.00 
15Adam Smith2836262711772.00 
16Mark Lawson2728303311869.00 
 Art Koerber2730313011869.00 
18Randy Simpson3229273111966.00 
19David Myers3431312412062.00 
 John Monroe2930293212062.00 
 Chuck Nance3033253212062.00 
22Lynn Self3231332512157.00 
 Johnny Brown3132253312157.00 
24Terry Whitaker2831313212254.00 
25Grover Jones3030323112352.00 
26Terry Hendrix3326333312549.50 
 Chuck Cyr3135302912549.50 
28Bill Combs3227333412648.00 
29Amy Smith3427373012847.00 
30Rodney Ashley3232323413046.00 

* Players listed in bold and italic font earned a qualification spots into the
2008 APA Tournament Players Championship


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