Nate Nichols and Jerry Pinotti Win Second-Career PPA National Doubles Championship
12 September 2011 - Memphis, TN - The 2011 PPA National Championship week kicked off with the contesting of the 72-hole PPA National Doubles Championship on courses # 2 and 3 at the beautiful Memphis, TN Putt-Putt Fun Center. In a departure from various formats employed in past seasons, four rounds of two-player better ball competition determined the event's 2011 champions. Predictably, scores were tightly bunched, making the emphatic three-stroke victory recorded by 2009 PPA National Doubles Champions Nate Nichols and Jerry Pinotti even that much more impressive.
2009 PPA Northern Open Champion Pinotti, a floral delivery person from Louisville, KY, presented partner Nichols, a 35-yr-old Columbus, IN educator, with a large bouquet of aces throughout the event's opening three rounds. The duo posted sizzling initial rounds of 21, 21, and 20 for a 54-hole total of 62 to establish a two-stroke lead over the squad of Thomas Rawles and 1985 TV Series Contestant Jeff Spainhour with one round remaining. Nichols and Pinotti continued their torrid pace early in the final round, holding on to shoot a closing-round 23 and capture the second PPA National Doubles Championship title of their careers and the $350.00 first prize with a 72-hole total of 85. The pair notched their first title in the event in Orlando, FL in 2009. "With the field being so deep we decided from the start that we were going to be aggressive," reflected Pinotti. "We were fortunate to have several good rounds early and hang on for the win." Added Nichols, "When you win a National Tour event of any kind you feel good about your performance. In the end though we both felt very fortunate to have won. These tournaments are loaded with great teams and it takes several well-timed hot streaks and a lot of good fortune to even have a chance to win, let alone win for a second time in three years."
2007 Louisiana State Champion Byron Kirby and rookie professional Pat Simpson charged the clubhouse with the ferocity of a pair of rhinos, posting a final-round 20 to secure runner-up honors at 88. A four-way, third-place tie at 89 included the teams of two-time PPA National Doubles Champions Kevin Lacey and Greg Ward, past PPA National Champions Rick Baird and Andy Coradini, past PPA National Champions Cliff Matthews and Tony Varnadore, and Rawles and Spainhour. The tandems of Nichols-Pinotti, Kirby-Simpson, Lacey-Ward, Chance Marett-Jeffrey Smith, and Rick Culverhouse-Frank Warren shared the tournament's low round of 20. The final of the sixteen cash spots awarded in the event fell at a four-round score of 93.
In the amateur division, two formidable teams of APA all-stars broke away from the rest of the field. After firing opening rounds of 24, 21, and 23, Johnny Brown, a three-time amateur division winner in 2011 from Wilson, NC, and reigning Eastern Open APA Champion Dr. Chris Chafin, 49, a counselor and college professor from Burlington, NC, established the 54-hole lead at 68. Lurking just a stroke behind that lead were the team of reigning APA National Champion Joey Graybeal and 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White. Playing in the first pairing of the day, Graybeal and White posted a fourth-round 22 to set the clubhouse lead at a 72-hole total of 91. Brown and Chafin stepped to the 17th tee of the last round needing consecutive aces to force a playoff. Cognizant of the scenario, Brown confidently made clutch aces on the final two holes of regulation play. As a result, an 18-hole playoff would be needed to determine the champions. First-round leaders Chris Alley and Steve Tanton carded 97 to tie for third position with 2010 APA National Player of the Year Randal Smith and Tomas Feix. The squads of Alan Sahmel and Danny Tatum and Lynn Self and Larry Smith completed the event deadlocked in fifth place at 99. The last of the seven amateur division expense reimbursement spots allocated in the tournament came at a 72-hole score of 102. The tandems of Brown-Chafin, Alley-Tanton, and Rodney Ashley and Joel Chastain shared low round honors for the event at 21.
In the ensuing 18-hole playoff, Brown and Chafin grabbed the lead for good after acing the fourth hole. With aces on holes 3-8, Brown and Chafin moved ahead by a stroke, 12-13, at the conclusion of the outward nine. Brown and Chafin stepped on the accelerator during the inward nine, acing holes 10-16 to seize a two-stroke advantage with two holes remaining. Things tightened considerably, however, after Brown and Chafin each deuced the 17th hole. Graybeal and White took full advantage of the opportunity, acing the 17th to creep within one stroke of the lead and garner honors on the 18th tee. Graybeal and White each failed to ace the challenging final hole, and with a subsequent deuce by Chafin, Brown and Chafin won the hard-fought playoff by a final tally of 23-24. "This victory was perhaps the most satisfying I've had. It truly was a storybook team effort," remarked Chafin. "To have played so well and to have had so much trust in another player to achieve a common goal was a unique and extremely gratifying feeling."
The events of the 2011 PPA National Championship week will continue with the contesting of the 2011 PPA ProPutters.Com Classic on courses # 2 and 3 at the Memphis, TN Putt-Putt Fun Center beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.
Article provided by Brad Lebo