Varnadore, Guthrie Outlast Field for 2010 Southern Putting Tour Match Play Championships
1 August 2010 - Gastonia, NC - Damp carpets and changing shots greeted the 21 pros and 14 amateurs gathered at the Adventure Landing facility in Gastonia, NC for the 2010 Southern Putting Tour Match Play Championship. Several showers Saturday afternoon and evening left Sunday conditions less than ideal for the 9am tee off, but early morning clouds broke and a light breeze helped dry the carpets during the double elimination event.
Defending champion and 1997 PPA National Champion Randy Reeves and the other 10 top seeded players enjoyed first round byes. First round winners in the 36 hole winners bracket matches included Martinez, GA standout Stan Seethoff, 2009 Dogwood Festival Open Champion Dennis Biesma, local Charlotte product and player favorite Jimmy Mott, 2005 South Carolina Match Play Champion Darrell Britt and 2009 SPT Tour Champion Allen Wall.
Second round winners bracket matches had Reeves defeating Seethoff, 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird defeating 2006 GA State Champion Michael Hitt, 2010 Virginia Open Champion Rick Rybaczek defeating Biesma, Mott defeating 2008 GA State Champion Jeff Carr, Britt defeating 2003 PPA National Champion Robert Johnson, 2009 PPA Eastern Open Champion Greg Newport defeating 1995 PPA National Champion Bill Kirby, Jr., 2008 NC State Champion Ricky Schults defeating Wall and 2007 PPA National Senior Champion Frank Warren defeating 2009 PPA National Champion Tony Varnadore.
Quarterfinal winners bracket matches saw Baird defeating Reeves, Biesma defeating Mott, Britt defeating Newport and Varnadore defeating Schults. Biesma then defeated Baird in semifinal action, while Britt bested Varnadore. Britt continued his winning ways by defeating Biesma in the winners bracket final.
Meanwhile, matches were being played in the losers bracket as well. As players fell in winners bracket matches, once opponents were set on each line of the bracket, players were starting matches as space on the course allowed. Elimination matches in the first round of losers bracket action saw Johnson eliminating 1989 and 1998 PPA National Champion Lewis Burton, Wall eliminating 2009 Elton Davis Memorial Dedication Award winner Bobby Jackson, Warren defeating 2007 Elton Davis Memorial Champion Tony Jackson, Seethoff elimination Mayodan, NC product Michael Cardwell and Rybaczek eliminating 2006 PPA National Senior Champion Steve Toomey.
In the next round of losers bracket action Johnson eliminated Kirby, Wall eliminated Warren, Seethoff eliminated Hitt and Rybaczek eliminated Carr.
Action continued in the losers bracket as Mott eliminated Johnson, Reeves eliminated Warren, Hitt eliminated Schults and Newport eliminated Rybaczek. Reeves then went on to eliminate Mott and Hitt eliminated Newport.
Varnadore fell into the losers bracket to face Reeves. In the battle of PPA National Champions, Varnadore bested Reeves and ended Reeves hopes of a title defense. Baird also fell into the losers bracket to face Hitt for the second time on the day. The results were the same as their first match, with Baird besting and eliminating Hitt.
Varnadore and Baird then squared off in another elimination match. In another battle among PPA National Champions, Varnadore continued his stellar play of late and eliminated Baird. Varnadore then faced Biesma in the losers bracket final for the right to challenge winners bracket survivor Britt and the opportunity for the title. Biesma could not stop Varnadores momentum and bowed to the reigning PPA National Champion.
Britt and Varnadore then battled for the title. Varnadore took the first 36 hole match by several holes, thus forcing an additional 36 holes to decide the championship. Varnadore held a four-up advantage on Britt with 13 holes to play. Varnadore had been perfect on the day on hole 6, but missed it and Britts ace cut the lead to three. Britt then made hole 7, and with Varnadores miss his lead was reduced to two. Britt continued his birdie string, making holes 8 and 9. Varnadore missed hole 9, dropping his lead to one.
Britt proceeded to ace the next 6 holes, only to be topped on each one by Varnadore. Britts tee shot missed on hole 16, and Varnadore grabbed the opening and a two-up lead with his birdie. He then deuced the tough hole 17, and when Britts effort faded to the right on his ace attempt, Varnadore had secured the title.
In the amateur division 2010 Northern Open Champion Randal Smith, 1993 NC State Champion Keith Waters and 2009 Gastonia winner Johnny Brown enjoyed first round byes. First round winners bracket matches had 1999 SC State Champion Adam Smith defeating 2008 White Lake, NC winner Linwood Moist, 2010 NC State Champion Ray Guthrie defeating 2003 National Invitational Champion Brian Hutchins, Webmaster Billy Caudle defeating Greensboro, NC standout Rick Carter, 2007 NC State Champion Chris Alley defeating putting prodigy Adam Wall and High Point, NC course maestro Jimmy Comer defeating 2009 GA State Champion Todd Trent.
Quarterfinal matches had Adam Smith defeating Randal Smith, Guthrie defeating Caudle, Alley defeating Waters and Brown defeating Comer. Semifinal matches saw Guthrie defeating Adam Smith and Brown defeating Alley. Guthrie continued his string of wins by defeating Brown in the winners bracket final.
As amateurs lost matches and fell into the losers bracket, once both opponents were ready they filtered on to open holes and started losers bracket elimination matches. In an early match, Carter eliminated Hutchins. In the first full round of losers bracket matches, Caudle eliminated Wall, Randal Smith eliminated Trent, Moist eliminated Comer and Waters eliminated Carter.
Losers bracket matches continued as Randal Smith eliminated Waters eliminated Moist. In the next elimination round, Alley eliminated Randal Smith and Waters eliminated Adam Smith. Waters then eliminated Alley and faced Johnny Brown in the finals of the losers bracket. Brown bested Waters and would face Guthrie in the championship match.
In the first championship match the lead changed several times. In the second round of the match Brown led going into the back nine by 1. He aced hole 10, and with Guthries miss Brown was 2 up. Guthrie fought back and sank unanswered aces on holes 11 and 12, tying the match. Guthries tee shot on hole 13 took a deep 180 degree lip and the ball ended up down the hill and 6 ft from the hole. After missing his deuce attempt Guthrie conceded the hole to again fall one down. Both players missed hole 14, and halved holes 15 and 16 as well. Brown hit a perfect tee shot on hole 17 for an ace, which Guthrie could not match. Brown won the first match 2 up.
After a 10 minute break, the two foes would take to the carpets for one final 36 hole match for the championship. Guthrie immediately set the pace for the match, acing the first six holes to take control. Fatigue set in for both players during the match and neither had their A game in motion. Guthrie was able to get some revenge on hole 13 in the final match, as he sank his tee shot to end the match and claim the championship.
The Southern Putting Tour would like to extend its sincere appreciation to Adventure Landing Manager Steve Brewer and his staff for having the course in outstanding playing condition and for their assistance in keeping the course playable throughout the challenging weather conditions seen during the weekend. The tour next heads to Burlington, NC on the weekend of August 14-15, 2010 for the contesting of the 36th Annual Elton Davis Memorial Championship and for the presentation of the Elton Davis Dedication Award.
Article provided by the Southern Putting Tour