25 April 2009 - White Lake, NC - The Southern Putting Tour gathered on a sunny spring morning at the festive setting of the White Lake, NC Putt-Putt facility to contest the first of three weekend tour events. The players unexpectedly were greeted by pristine new carpets which recently had been placed throughout the course. Predictably, the week-old carpets required aggressive play and much adaptation and resulted in minimal separation of the bulk of field scoring.
In his inaugural 2009 tour appearance, 2001 PPA Hall of Fame inductee Greg Ward
took a scenic route to an eventual one-stroke victory. Ward opened his 2009 campaign with a brilliant 23 to assume the first-round lead. A pedestrian middle-round 29, however, dropped Ward into fifth place at 52 after 36 holes, four strokes off of the blistering pace being set by two-time South Carolina State Match Play Champion Darrell Britt
. Ward continued his sluggish mid-tournament effort on the outward nine of the final round, posting a lackluster front-nine 15. But with grit and fortitude befitting the sport's all-time victories leader, Ward refocused to ace eight of his final nine holes, including the last six, to record a 54-hole total of 77 and notch a hard-fought one-stroke triumph. Britt and the recently-resurgent Manfred Stewart
shared runner-up honors at 78. Beating only six players in the field entering the final round, 2006 GA State Champion Michael Hitt
fired an inspired, tournament-low closing-round 22 to pole-vault into a fourth place tie with 2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper
at 81. The cash line for the seventeen money spots awarded in the tournament fell at 85.
In the amateur division, 2006 PPA Women's National Champion Vanette Block
appeared in command of the tournament after 36 holes. At 55, she enjoyed a three-stroke lead over a quartet of amateurs. With a third-round 32, however, Block gave new life to the amateur field and allowed four other players to join her atop the leaderboard at the end of regulation play. The cast of five former PPA professionals bunched at 87 and destined for an 18-hole playoff included Block, 1998 North Carolina APA State Champion Billy Caudle
, two-time Ray Browning Memorial APA Champion Barb Mingo
, reigning Southern Putting Tour APA Match Play Champion Chuck Nance
, and two-time North Carolina APA State Champion Jimmy Comer
. The last of the fourteen amateur division expense reimbursement spots allocated in the event fell at 92.
In the ensuing 18-hole amateur playoff, Nance carded a front-nine 13 to seize a one-stroke lead over all four of his opponents. Disaster struck for Nance at the 10th hole, however, as he recorded a double bogey. Block took advantage of the opportunity, magically acing the enigmatic 10th and 11th holes to move into the lead by one stroke. Comer aced the 12th hole to grab a share of the lead with Block at six-under par. Block rebounded with consecutive aces on holes 13-15 to increase her lead to three strokes over Caudle, Nance, and Comer. Upon deucing the final three holes, Block posted a playoff score of 27 to capture her third amateur title in six events in 2009. Caudle and Nance each carded a playoff score of 28. Comer and Mingo shot 29 and 31, respectively.
The Southern Putting Tour will resume action with another 54-hole event to be held on course # 1 at the White Lake, NC Putt-Putt facility. Play is scheduled to commence at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2009.