Jay Klapper Dominates Field to Successfully Defend PPA Northern Open Title in Warren, OH
18 July 2010 - Warren, OH - The PPA National Tour travelled to the picturesque and sprawling Warren, OH Putt-Putt Fun Center to contest the fourth event on the 2010 PPA National Tour schedule, the 144-hole PPA Northern Open, hosted jointly by the PPA Great Lakes and Indiana Tours. Course owners Renea and Ed Ackerman graciously welcomed the tour to their immaculately-maintained course # 3 layout, considered by pundits of the sport to be one of the country's truest tests of putting skill. Mother Nature ferociously defended the course from low scoring, however, as scorching mid-summer heat and sunshine resulted in maximal fluffing of the course's backwards carpet fibers and violent, unpredictable Saturday afternoon winds baffled many in the field.
In 2009, 2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper of Lawrenceville, GA established a new all-time PPA 144-hole scoring record en route to an emphatic eight-stroke victory in the PPA Northern Open. Klapper, who fittingly is to be inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame in September 2010, brought the same laser focus to Warren for his PPA Northern Open title defense. After seizing a five-stroke lead at the end of the first day of play, Klapper extended his lead to eight strokes with two rounds remaining and ultimately coasted to a dominant six-stroke triumph. With solid, steady rounds of 26, 26, 28, 25, 24, 25, 26, and 28, Klapper posted a 144-hole total of 208 to earn his first victory of the 2010 PPA season. Predictably, 2009 VA State Champion Rick Rybaczek, a renowned wind specialist, matched Klapper at 103 for the low 72-hole score of the tournament's second day to notch runner-up honors at 214. At 216, 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird recorded his third third-place finish in four 2010 PPA National Tour events and as a result sprung to the top of the 2010 PPA National Tour points standings. PPA Hall of Fame member Roger Beckerman charged the clubhouse with a final-round 25 to secure fourth position at 221. A three-way, fifth-place tie at 222 included prohibitive pre-tournament favorite Kevin Lacey, 2000 Great Lakes Tour Champion Rick Alessi, and first-round leader Jeff Carr. PPA Hall of Fame legend Daryl Freeman used a timely eighth-round 24 to move into a tie for eighth position with 2009 PPA Eastern Open Champion Greg Newport at 223. Despite only having joined the professional ranks several weeks earlier, 2009 Northern Open APA Champion Brandon Davis manufactured an inspired second-day comeback, shooting 105 for the final day of play to round out the top ten finishers at 224 and garner the praise of 1990 PPA National Champion Steve "Finman" Haeseker.
Play began with 2008 GA State Champion Jeff Carr motoring into sole possession of the opening-round lead at 25. A gaggle of players tied for second position at 26 included Klapper, Lacey, Alessi, 2008 PPA Northern Open Champion Jerry Pinotti, and 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo. Another nine contestants lurked at 27.
The course's signature winds increased drastically as the second round commenced. Swirling, howling winds creating a virtual atmospheric washing machine for the players to negotiate. General field scoring accordingly skyrocketed. Lacey, who had won three of the four previous 2010 tournaments played on the course, brilliantly mastered the challenging conditions, crafting a second-round 25 to jump into the 36-hole lead at 51. Klapper posted a solid round of 26 to remain in second position at 52. A third-place tie at 55 included Rybaczek, Alessi, and host professional David Jones.
Lacey continued his torrid pace in the event's third round, carding 26 to extend his lead to three strokes with a three-round score of 77. Klapper clung to second place at 80 after a third-round 28. Posting 24, the low round for the first day of action, Baird leapfrogged into a tie for third position with Rybaczek at 81. Also firing 24, Freeman matched Baird for the opening day's low round and moved into fifth place at 82.
Klapper fashioned a stellar fourth-round 25, the lowest round of the first day's final round, to seize a lead he would not relinquish. Klapper would enter the final day of play with a five-stroke lead over the field at 105. The unrelenting afternoon winds derailed Lacey in the fourth round, as he struggled to a fourth-round 33 and fell into a second-place tie at 110 with Baird, Beckerman, and Jones.
The final day of action kicked off amidst significantly calmer conditions with Klapper riding the momentum he had built at the end of the first day of play. Firing a fifth-round 24, Klapper increased his lead to eight strokes at 129. 2003 PPA National Champion Robert Johnson shot 24 to claw his way into a tie for second place at 137 with Rybaczek, Baird, and Jones. Reigning PPA National Doubles Champion Nate Nichols rose up the 90-hole leaderboard by virtue of a tournament-low round of 22 in the fifth round. "Even a broken clock is right twice a day," quipped the Columbus, Indiana educator following his remarkable round.
Clearly in command of his game, the conditions, and the tournament, Klapper carded a sixth-round 25 to maintain his eight-stroke lead at 154. Rybaczek also shot 25 to jump into solo second place at 162. Baird fired a second-consecutive 27 and stood in third position at 164. At 165, Johnson held fourth place. Carr posted 24 to leap into a fifth-place tie at 166 with Nichols and Jones.
Klapper continued his solid performance in the event's penultimate round, firing 26 to establish the 126-hole lead at 180. Rybaczek crept slightly closer to the top of the leaderboard, carding a spectacular seventh-round 24 to move within six strokes of Klapper's lead. Baird kept pace with Rybaczek, also shooting 24 to keep himself alive in the developing two-player duel for second place with a seven-round total of 188. Bunched in a fourth-place logjam at 194 were Lacey, Alessi, Nichols, and Jones.
In the event's final round, literally no movement occurred on the leaderboard among the top three contenders. Klapper carded a steady final-round 28, giving him a 144-hole total of 208 and a comfortable final margin of victory of six strokes. Rybaczek and Baird matched eighth-round 28's. Rybaczek enjoyed second-place honors at 214 and notched his third-consecutive top-four finish on the 2010 PPA National Tour schedule. At 216, Baird earned his third third-place finish in four 2010 PPA National Tour events and in the process leapfrogged to the top of the 2010 PPA National Tour points standings. Beckerman stormed into fourth place at 221 with a final-round 25. Lacey, Alessi, and Carr shared fifth position at 222. With a final-round 24, Freeman jumped into a tie for eighth with Newport at 223. Davis began his professional career impressively, making a grand second-day run to complete the event in tenth place at 224.
The final of the 23 money spots allocated in the tournament fell at a 144-hole total of 230. Qualifying spots for the PPA Tournament Players Championship were awarded to the top finishers in the field who had not already earned such a spot in 2010. Players accepting those spots at the PPA Northern Open included Davis, Ken Hastings, Peter Neumann, Scott Buddie, Paul Johns, and James White.
The amateur division results mirrored those of the professional division, as Randal Smith of Reidsville, NC overwhelmed the amateur field with a decisive six-stroke victory. When the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Dean's List student returns to classes later this summer, he certainly will be able to pen an impressive essay about "what he did on his summer vacation." Since reverting to amateur status in 2010 following a lengthy and fruitful professional career, Smith has been the dominant amateur force in the country, having won eight 2010 amateur division titles, including the 2010 Southern and Eastern Opens. Snatching the tournament lead permanently after 54 holes of play, Smith entered the second day of action with a six-stroke advantage and built a nine-stroke lead with one round remaining. Smith prudently played conservatively in the final round to earn a six-stroke triumph. With rounds of 27, 29, 27, 27, 25, 27, 26, and 30, Smith carded a 144-hole total of 218. In the battle for second place, first-round leader Bonnie White outlasted second-round leader Joey Graybeal to secure runner-up honors at 224. At 226, Graybeal settled for his third third-place finish in as many starts on the 2010 National Tour schedule. 2008 Ray Browning Memorial APA Champion Barb Mingo opened the final day of play by firing the amateur division's tournament-low round of 23 on her way to completing the event in fourth position at 236. Don Mathews, who carded the amateur division's low round of the first day with a fourth-round 24, and 2008 Northern Putting Tour APA Medal Play Champion Rick Ossenfort tied for fifth place at 239 and split the final amateur division expense reimbursement spot awarded in the tournament.
Accepting the qualifying spots into the amateur division of the 2010 Tournament Players Championship which were distributed at the PPA Northern Open were White, Matt Male, Don Niznik, Bill Combs, and Jeff Brown.
The PPA National Tour extends thanks and expresses its collective gratitude to Warren, OH Putt-Putt Fun Center course owners Renea and Ed Ackerman and their staff for their hospitality and extensive efforts in preparing the course and facility for a very successful weekend of tournament action. The PPA National Tour schedule will resume with the events of the PPA National Championship week to be held during the week of September 13-18, 2010 at the beautiful Lynchburg, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center, owned by PPA Tour Commissioner Joe Aboid.
Article provided by Brad Lebo