Greg Ward Records Wire-to-Wire Victory in 2009 PPA Tournament Players Championship
15 September 2009 - Orlando, FL - On an oppressively hot and sunny late summer Florida morning, the PPA National Tour contested the 72-hole PPA Tournament Players Championship on the Magnolia and Fountain Courses of the Putt-Putt Golf facility in Orlando, FL's Orange Lake Resort and Country Club. The field was closed to 66 professional and 36 amateur players who had qualified for the event through tournaments held on the 2009 PPA National Tour schedule.
PPA Hall of Fame member Greg Ward and two-time PPA National Match Play Champion Charlie Greenwalt began the tournament by firing matching tournament-low first-round 21's on the Magnolia course. Ward followed with solid rounds of 24 and 24 to open up a five-shot lead over Orlando area resident Tim Jones after 54 holes at 69. With a serviceable final-round 29, Ward finished off a wire-to-wire, two-stroke win with a 72-hole total of 98. Despite his standing as the sport's all-time career wins and money leader, Ward was typically gracious in victory. "Today was my lucky day," said the 48-year-old construction material sales Vice President from Loganville, GA. "Winning the 2009 PPA Tournament Players Championship is a great honor."
In the battle for second place, 2003 PPA National Champion Robert Johnson and two-time Midwest States Tour Champion Gary Watson orchestrated inspired clubhouse runs in the fourth round. Carding respective final-round scores of 24 and 22, Johnson and Watson leapfrogged into a tie for runner-up honors at 100. 2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper completed the event alone in fourth position at 102. A four-way, fifth-place logjam at 103 included defending champion Kevin Lacey, PPA Hall of Fame legend Daryl Freeman, 2006 GA State Champion Michael Hitt, and 2007 PPA Seniors National Champion Frank Warren. The cash line for the 31 money spots awarded in the tournament fell at a 72-hole score of 111.
In the amateur division, Birmingham, AL's Lynn Self's years of hard work developing and refining her competitive putting skills finally paid major dividends as she earned her first career amateur victory on a grand stage. The 39-year-old data entry specialist seized a two-stroke opening-round lead with a spectacular tournament-low round of 23 on the Fountain Course. Subsequent rounds of 28 and 31 gave Self a 54-hole total of 82, dropping her into a tie for second position with 2007 Texas Open APA Champion Trevor Lewin and a stroke behind 54-hole leader Malcolm Shumaker. Self rebounded brilliantly, however, posting an inspired final-round 25 to notch a three-stroke triumph with a 72-hole score of 107. "Larry (Smith) and I have been touring for six years and I have waited that long to get my very first victory," commented the elated Self. "I would have never believed it would finally come at a National event in Orlando, FL at the 50th Nationals."
Reigning PPA Eastern Open APA Champion Larry Smith finished in second place at 110. With a fourth-round 25, 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White charged into a third-place tie with Shumaker at 111. At 112, reigning Southern Putting Tour APA Champion Ben Blake rounded out the top five amateur division finishers. The last of the nine amateur division expense reimbursement spots distributed in the event came at four-round total of 115.
Action in the 2009 PPA National Championship week will continue with the contesting of the 2009 PPA National Doubles Championships. That 72-hole event will be held on the Magnolia and Fountain Courses at the Orange Lake Resort and Country Club in Orlando, FL beginning at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.
Article provided by Brad Lebo