8 June 2008 - Charlottesville, VA - On the backdrop of a second-consecutive brutally hot and humid morning, the Virginia PPA Tour contested its first major tournament of the 2008 season, the Dogwood Festival Open, on the picturesque but mercurial course # 2 in Charlottesville, VA. 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo
crafted steady, bogey-free rounds of 29, 27, 26, and 30 for a 72-hole total of 112, enough for a three-stroke victory. The win enabled Lebo to complete a sweep of the weekend's events and gave him his fourth victory of the 2008 PPA season. Two-time PPA National Doubles Champion Rick Rybaczek
rebounded from a slow start to his day to capture runner-up honors at 115. Reigning PPA Tournament Players Champion Vince Batten
finished in third place at 116. Defending champion Daryl Freeman
completed the tournament in fourth position at 118. At 119, PPA rookie sensation Dennis Biesma
rounded out the event's top five finishers.
Action began in the professional division with Batten and PPA Hall of Fame member Gary Hinshaw
seizing early co-leadership at 28. Lebo and 2007 Richmond, VA City Champion Ken Schooler
hovered just a stroke off of the lead, in a third-place tie at 29. Grouped in fifth place at 30 were Freeman, Biesma, and 2007 PPA ProPutters.com Classic Champion Greg Newport
Scores remained bunched after 36 holes of play. Lebo carded a second-round 27 to pole-vault into the lead at the event's halfway mark at 56. Batten and Freeman lurked a stroke behind the lead at 57. Rybaczek leapfrogged into fourth position at 58 after a stellar second-round 26, which would tie Lebo for the tournament's low round. Hinshaw stood in fifth place at 59.
By virtue of a sizzling third-round 26, Lebo increased his lead to three strokes after 54 holes at 82. Rybaczek continued his strong play, posting a third-round 27 to move into second place at 85. Batten remained in contention, in third position at 86. Freeman held fourth place at 88. At 90, Biesma was in fifth position.
Course conditions became even more challenging in the event's final round, as the baking sunshine and heat caused the course's carpet fibers to rise maximally. As a result, only several players - and none of the leaders - broke 30 in the fourth round. Lebo, Rybaczek, Batten, and Freeman matched final-round 30's. Lebo's effort was enough to give him a three-stroke victory with a 72-hole score of 112. The win was Lebo's fourth of the 2008 PPA season. Rybaczek notched runner-up honors at 115. At 116, Batten finished in third position. Fourth place went to Freeman at 118. Biesma continued his impressive rookie campaign, completing the event in fifth position at 119. The cash line for the eight money spots awarded in the tournament fell at 125.
In the amateur division, two-time Virginia Open APA Champion Amy Smith
charged into the clubhouse with a final-round 29 to earn a spot in an 18-hole playoff against defending champion Conway Coffey
, as both players fired a 72-hole score of 118. In a hard-fought and carefully-managed battle, Smith iced the usually piping-hot Coffey, carding 30 to win the playoff by a single stroke. The victory was Smith's first of the 2008 season. Lynchburg's Bill Petrie finished in third place at 123. At 125, Mike Matthews
, winner of the previous day's amateur event, completed the tournament in fourth position. 2004 JPA National Champion John Petrie
joined his father in the top five, finishing in fifth place at 129.
Play commenced in the amateur division with Smith and Bill Petrie moving to the top of the opening-round leader board at 30. The trio of Mike Matthews, Charlottesville local player Shayne Shiflet, and five-time VA State APA Champion Chuck Dibbs
shared third place at 31.
Smith continued her steady play in the second round, carding a solid 28 to open up a three-stroke lead on the amateur field at 58. Coffey ground out a 29 to leap into a second-place tie with Bill Petrie at 61. Tidewater area heavyweights Mike Matthews and Dibbs remained in striking distance of Smith's lead, deadlocked in fourth position at 62.
The previously-lukewarm Coffey quickly reached a boil in the "moving day" round, firing a brilliant third-round 26 to wrestle the lead from Smith at 87. Smith clung to second place at 89. In third position at 90, Bill Petrie had the only other realistic chance to catch Coffey's lead. Despite a third-round 33, Mike Matthews maintained fourth place at 95. John Petrie leaped into fifth position at 97 after a third-round 30.
With course conditions becoming increasingly difficult in the baking heat of the fourth round, Smith and Coffey persevered to break away from the rest of the amateur field. Smith recorded a very solid final-round 29 to catch Coffey's 72-hole lead at 118 and force an 18-hole playoff. Bill Petrie struggled to a fourth-round 33 but easily held onto third place at 123. Mike Matthews rebounded to shoot a final-round 30 and complete the event in fourth position at 125. At 129, John Petrie rounded out the top five amateur division finishers and earned the final amateur division expense reimbursement spot awarded in the tournament.
In the ensuing amateur division 18-hole playoff, both contestants played admirably in the extremely challenging mid-afternoon course conditions. Smith and Coffey made the turn deadlocked at 15. The bogey-free chess match continued on the inward nine holes. With honors and a one-stroke lead, Smith deuced the difficult 18th hole. When Coffey's ace effort narrowly missed, Smith claimed her first amateur title of the 2008 season. Smith defeated Coffey in the playoff by a final tally of 30-31.
The Virginia PPA Tour extends its thanks and great appreciation to course owner Lloyd Wood and his staff for, as always, warmly welcoming the tour to the beautiful Charlottesville, VA Putt-Putt facility for a successful weekend of tournaments. The next events on the Virginia PPA Tour will be held on course # 2 in Roanoke, VA on June 28 and 29. The 54-hole tournaments will begin at noon on Saturday, June 28, 2008 and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 29, 2008.