Cliff Matthews Records Dominant Victory in PPA ProPutters.com Classic
14 September 2009 - Orlando, FL - The 2009 PPA National Championship week kicked off with the contesting of the 72-hole PPA ProPutters.com Classic on the Magnolia and Fountain courses at the beautiful Putt-Putt Golf facility at the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club in Orlando, FL. A field of 70 professionals gathered to vie for the first title to be awarded during the long championship week. Two-time PPA National Champion Cliff Matthews of Haltom City, TX made an early statement for the week, beginning the tournament by posting three consecutive spectacular rounds of 23 and entering the final round with a dominating seven-stroke lead over the field at 69. Matthews negotiated a serviceable fourth-round 27 on the Fountain course to cruise to a four-shot win with a 72-hole total of 96. Charging into the clubhouse with a fourth-round 23, reigning PPA Eastern Open Champion Greg Newport pole-vaulted over four players into second place at 100. At 104, 2006 GA State Champion Michael Hitt completed the event in third position. A seven-way, fourth-place logjam at 105 included 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo, 2009 Louisiana Open Champion Wade Sahmel, 1999 PPA Most Improved Player Tony Varnadore, Thomas Rawles, 2007 PPA Senior National Champion Frank Warren, 2008 GA State Champion Jeff Carr, and 2008 TX Open Champion Gary Reed. The cash line for the 35 money spots awarded in the tournament fell at a 72-hole score of 111.
In a closely-fought amateur division battle, 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White of Tiffin, OH followed a disappointing opening-round 32 with a brilliant, tournament-low second-round 22 to leapfrog into a share of the 36-hole lead at 54. Firing 30 in the event's penultimate round, White dropped into a three-way tie for second place at 84 with one round remaining, two strokes behind 54-hole leader Todd Trent. White posted a final-round 28 to catch Trent's lead, as both contestants completed regulation play with a 72-hole total of 112. A victor would be determined in an 18-hole playoff. 1998 APA National Champion Jeff Brown rallied with a stellar fourth-round 25 to jump into a third-place tie at 113 with reigning PPA Eastern Open APA Champion Larry Smith and Texan Jason Sheffield. The last of the eleven amateur division expense reimbursement spots allocated in the event came at a 72-hole total of 120.
In the ensuing 18-hole amateur division playoff on the Fountain course, White aced the first hole, while Trent bogeyed, giving White a lead which she never would relinquish. White increased her advantage to three strokes at the end of the outward nine with an opening-nine score of 12. The players matched uneventful back-nine 15's, earning White a 27-30 playoff triumph. "I didn't know what kind of scores to expect since it was the first tournament of the week," observed the 55-year-old housewife and mother. "The tournament made me realize just how challenging these courses are and that you just have to stay patient."
Action will continue in the 2009 PPA National Championship week with the contesting of the PPA and APA Tournament Players Championship and the PPA and APA Senior National Championship on the Magnolia and Fountain courses at the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club's Putt-Putt Golf facility in Orlando, FL. Play in the 72-hole events, which will be held simultaneously as part of the same tournament, will commence at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.
Article provided by Brad Lebo