Larry Smith Caps Off Stellar 2009 Amateur Campaign By Capturing 2009 APA National Championship
18 September 2009 - Orlando, FL - After recording four top-six finishes in the past four APA National Championship tournaments, including a 2006 playoff loss to Caleb Kennedy, two-time APA Senior National Champion Larry Smith finally emerged victorious with a hard-fought, come-from-behind triumph in the two-day, eight-round event, contested at the picturesque Orange Lake Resort and Country Club's Putt-Putt Golf facility in Orlando, FL. Smith fired rounds of 26, 28, 32, 27, 25, 26, 27, and 27 for a 144-hole total of 218, enough to defeat 2007 NC APA State Champion Chris Alley by two strokes. In 2009, Smith also notched amateur division titles in the PPA Eastern Open and PPA Senior National Championship and well as a runner-up finish in the PPA Tournament Players Championship and a third-place finish in the PPA ProPutters.com Classic. Despite his impressive and lengthy career resume, Smith remained humble in victory. "I feel quite fortunate to have won such a great event," said the 52-year-old facilities manager from Birmingham, AL. "There were many great players in the APA field, and I have been truly blessed to have won the greatest prize that an APA player can win."
Play commenced in the amateur division with 2007 APA National Doubles Champion Adam Sahmel posting a brilliant first-round 24 to seize a one-shot opening-round lead over 2009 Reunion Tournament APA Champion Conway Coffey. With a second-round 28, Sahmel remained atop the amateur leaderboard after 36 holes, tied at 52 with reigning Southern Putting Tour APA Champion Ben Blake, who turned in a second-round 25. Sahmel and Blake matched third-round 29's and continued to share the lead after 54 holes at 81. Coffey hovered just two strokes behind the leaders, in third position at 83. With Sahmel struggling in the day's final round, Blake grabbed sole possession of the lead at the tournament's midpoint with a 72-hole total of 108. Alley and 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White made the biggest moves of the fourth round, shooting 25 and 24, respectively. Alley completed the day at 109, just one stroke off of Blake's lead, with White alone in third position at 110. Smith maneuvered into contention, alone in fourth place at 113.
The second day of action featured numerous lead changes in the amateur division. With Blake suffering a fifth-round 33, Alley leaped to the top of the amateur scoreboard with a 90-hole total of 136. Smith carded a fifth-round 25 to move into second place at 138. White stood in third position at 139, with Blake dropping into fourth at 141. Alley and Smith matched sixth-round 26's to move further ahead of the rest of the amateur division. Alley established the 108-hole lead at 162, with Smith remaining in second position at 164. At 167, White held third place, with Sahmel jumping back into fourth position at 172 with a sixth-round 27. After seven rounds, the tournament developed into a three-player race. Smith crafted a seventh-round 27 to leapfrog into the 126-hole lead at 191. Alley endured two seventh-round double bogeys en route to a round of 31 and dropped into second place at 193. White entered the final round in third place at 196.
Smith completed his quest for the amateur division's grandest honor by recording a solid eighth-round 27 for a 144-hole total of 218, 70-under-par. That score earned Smith a two-shot victory over runner-up Chris Alley, who also shot a last-round 27 to finish at 220. At 225, White completed the event in third place. A two-way, fourth-place tie at 228 included Blake and Jason Sheffield, who charged into the clubhouse with a final-round 26. The final of the sixteen amateur division expense reimbursement spots awarded in the tournament came at a 144-hole score of 233.
The APA National Championship tournament concluded the 2009 APA National Tour schedule.
Article provided by Brad Lebo