Steve Tanton Wins 2011 APA National Championship in Memphis, TN
16 September 2011 - Veteran tour player Steve Tanton of Waco, TX capped off a stellar 2011 National Tour amateur division campaign by dominating the field en route to an emphatic twelve-stroke victory in the two-day, 144-hole 2011 APA National Championship contested on courses # 2 and # 3 at the beautiful and sprawling Memphis, TN Putt-Putt Fun Center. The 50-year-old Texas State Technical College administrator fired rounds of 26, 25, 26, 26, 24, 26, 26, and 25 for a 144-hole total of 204 to earn the first APA National Championship title of his career. Tanton also captured National Tour APA titles in the Western Open and Senior National Championship earlier in 2011. "I believe that the success I had during the National Championship week began when I won the Western Open earlier in the year," observed Tanton. "It was my first major National Tour title after a great many close calls and allowed me to return to Memphis relaxed and confident. Patience and consistency were the keys to both of my wins. I have dreamed of winning the APA National Championship since playing in my first weekly tournament at the Division course in Arlington, TX. It took me over forty years to achieve the dream."
Play commenced in the amateur division with a quartet of players including Tanton, recently-crowned ProPutters.Com Classic APA Champion Danny Tatum, Tomas Feix, and 2010 APA National Player of the Year Randal Smith soaring to the top of the tightly-bunched early APA leaderboard at 26. With matching second-round 25's, Tanton and Tatum moved into co-leadership after 36 holes at 51, one stroke ahead of Smith. Tatum and Tanton put some breathing room between themselves and the rest of the field after three rounds. Tatum posted a brilliant third-round 23 to set the 54-hole lead at 74, with Tanton in second place at 77. Smith held third position at 80. Tatum lost his momentum in the first day's final round, as he carded 31. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Tanton shot a solid fourth-round 26 to take permanent command of the tournament with a 72-hole score of 103 at the event's halfway mark. Tatum entered the final day in second place at 105, with two-time Oklahoma APA State Champion Jason Van Buskirk in third place at 108.
During the second day of action, Tanton continued his strong and steady play. With a fifth-round 24, Tanton extended his lead to five strokes after 90 holes. Van Buskirk pole-vaulted into second place at 132 with a 24 of his own. Carding 30, Tatum fell eight strokes off Tanton's pace into a third-place tie at 135 with Alan Sahmel, who climbed up the leaderboard with a fifth-round 24. 2009 APA National Champion Larry Smith rebounded from a disappointing opening day of play by posting an amateur division tournament-low round of 22 to open the final day of action.
In the event's sixth round, Van Buskirk kept pace with Tanton, as the duo matched 26's. As a result, Tanton maintained his five-stroke cushion with a 108-hole total of 153. Van Buskirk remained in second position at 160. Defending champion Joey Graybeal sprung to life, carding a sixth-round 24 to leapfrog into third place at 160.
Tanton fired his second-consecutive 26 in the tournament's penultimate round to establish the seventh-round lead at 179. With a seventh-round 28, Van Buskirk dropped seven strokes behind Tanton with one round remaining but clung to second position at 186. Dr. Chris Chafin, winner of three APA National Tour events in 2011, jumped into third place at 188 following a spectacular seventh-round 23. Tatum and Graybeal remained alive in the battle for second place, tied for fourth position at 190.
Tanton successfully completed his quest for the APA's grandest honor in style, carding a closing-round 25 to post an impressive eight-round total of 204 and earn an eye-popping twelve-shot victory. Three-time Texas APA State Champion Dwain Willett charged out of the pack with a final-round 24 to maneuver into a tie with Chafin for runner-up honors at 216. Struggling to an eighth-round 31, Van Buskirk dropped into fourth position at 217. A three-way, fifth-place tie at 219 included Tatum, Graybeal, and 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White. The final of the ten amateur division expense reimbursement spots awarded in the tournament fell at a 144-hole score of 226.
The 2011 APA National Tour schedule concluded with the completion of the 2011 APA National Championship tournament.
Article provided by Brad Lebo