19 July 2009 - Martinez, GA - On a sunny and slightly breezy weekend, the PPA National Tour contested its third tournament of the 2009 season, the two-day, 144-hole PPA Southern Open, at the picturesque and historic Martinez, GA Putt-Putt Fun Center. The PPA Southern Putting Tour hosted and ran the tournament. In the months leading up to the event, course owner Mark Ross
and maintenance director Stan Seethoff, both PPA professionals and tournament participants, worked tirelessly to prepare the Blue Course for the PPA Southern Open. As a result, the field of 39 professionals and 28 amateurs were treated to a course and grounds which were in immaculate shape and playing conditions which were ideal.
In a tightly-contested battle in the professional division, four players stepped to the final tee of the event with a chance to join a playoff. Playing in the penultimate pairing, 2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper
established the 144-hole clubhouse lead with an 83-under par score of 205 after firing rounds of 26, 25, 27, 23, 27, 22, 29, and 26 for the event. 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird
successfully converted a clutch ace effort on his final hole to match Klapper's total and force an 18-hole playoff. 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo
, who led the event by one stroke after seven rounds, and reigning PPA National Champion Kevin Lacey
each failed to ace the last hole of regulation, missing the playoff by one stroke and settling for a tie for third place at 206. Martinez local putting icon Frank Warren
dazzled the gallery with a spectacular first-day 72-hole total of 96, which included a tournament-low second-round 21, to seize a two-stroke overnight tournament lead. However, the well of aces went dry for Warren in the final four rounds on the oft-fickle Blue Course layout. Warren held on valiantly to ultimately share fifth place at 208 with two-time PPA National Doubles Champion Rick Rybaczek
, who orchestrated a brilliant final-day charge up the leaderboard.
The subsequent 18-hole playoff proved to be a roller coaster affair. After Klapper recorded a bogey on the playoff's second hole, Baird aced the third hole to take an early two-stroke lead. After the duo matched aces on the 4th and 5th holes, Baird bogeyed the challenging 6th hole. Klapper's ace on the same hole gave him a share of the lead. The players made the turn tied with scores of 13 on the outward nine. The contestants each aced three of the first five holes on the inward nine holes to stay deadlocked with four holes remaining. Aces by Klapper on holes 15 and 16 gave him a two-stroke cushion over Baird with two holes remaining. But then, with honors, Klapper suffered an untimely bogey on the tedious 17th hole. Baird took full advantage of the opening, acing the 17th hole to once again square the match. Deuces by both players on the 18th hole sent the playoff into sudden death after the contestants tied with playoff scores of 28. After Baird deuced the first hole of sudden death, Klapper aced the hole to secure the 2009 PPA Southern Open title. The victory was a continuation of recent stellar PPA National Tour play by Klapper, who in his two prior PPA National Tour events finished as runner-up to Kevin Lacey in the 2008 PPA National Championship and lost in a playoff to Greg Newport
in the 2009 PPA Eastern Open.
Twelve qualifying spots for the PPA Tournament Players Championship were awarded to the top twelve finishers in the field who had not already earned such a spot. Players accepting those spots included Lebo, Warren, Rybaczek, Robert Johnson
, Nate Nichols
, Tony Jackson
, Tony Varnadore
, Gary English
, Gary Watson
, Randy Orr
, Stan Seethoff
, and Tim Greenert
. The final of the sixteen money spots allocated in the professional division in the event fell at a score of 216.
In the amateur division, 2007 APA Tournament Players Champion Brandon Davis
dominated the field, carding rounds of 25, 24, 26, 24, 27, 28, 23, and 26 for a 144-hole total of 203 and an eye-popping 10-stroke triumph. The teen putting prodigy posted an opening-day 72-hole total of 99 to take a three-stroke lead over the recently-surging Johnny Brown
at the tournament's halfway mark. 2007 NC APA State Champion Chris Alley
manufactured the biggest second-day charge at Davis' lead, however. Alley fired a sixth-round 25 to creep within three strokes of Davis with two rounds remaining. Davis charged back with a seventh-round 23, however, to establish a seven-stroke lead with one round left to play and coasted to victory with a closing-round 26. Alley earned runner-up honors at 213. Martinez local player Art Koerber performed steadily and impressively, completing the tournament in third place at 220. Brown finished in fourth position at 221. At 223, PPA Western Tour director Danny Tatum
rounded out the amateur division's top five finishers. Accepting the six qualifying spots into the amateur division of the 2009 Tournament Players Championship which were distributed in the event were Koerber, Tatum, Mike Newman, Chris Hudson
, David Myers
, and Pat Simpson
. The last of the ten amateur division expense reimbursement spots awarded in the tournament came at a 144-hole total of 228.
The PPA National Tour wishes to extend its collective thanks and gratitude to course owner Mark Ross and his staff for graciously welcoming the tour to the beautiful Martinez, GA Putt-Putt Fun Center for a very successful tournament weekend. The PPA National Tour returns to play on the weekend of August 15-16, 2009 on course # 2 at the Columbus, IN Putt-Putt Fun Center for the contesting of the 144-hole 2009 PPA Northern Open, which will be hosted by course owner Carl Miller and the Indiana and Great Lakes Tours. The first four rounds of the event will begin at noon on Saturday, August 15. The final four rounds of the tournament will tee off at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 16.