Rick Baird Captures 2011 PPA ProPutters.Com Classic In Dominant Fashion
13 September 2011 - Memphis, TN - The PPA National Tour held the second tournament of the 2011 PPA National Championship week, the tenth annual 72-hole PPA ProPutters.Com Classic, on courses # 2 and # 3 at Aubrey Smith's sprawling Memphis, TN Putt-Putt Fun Center. With opening rounds of 24, 25, and 24, 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird, 54, an IT manager from Charlotte, NC, entered the closing round tied with playing partner Jeffrey Smith for the 54-hole lead at 73. Baird posted an outward nine score of 12 in the fourth round to move two strokes ahead of Smith and followed with an inward nine 12 to cruise to a four-stroke victory and earn the $400.00 winner's check with a 72-hole total of 97. The victory was the culmination of a stellar 2011 season for Baird, a season in which he also recorded a perfect "18" during a Virginia Tour event on course # 3 in Richmond, VA. "It was awesome to win another National Tournament," noted Baird following his triumph. "Jeff (Smith) and I battled throughout the whole tournament and it was very rewarding to go against such high quality of competition in my group and come out on top against such a strong field of players."
Smith carded a final-round 28 to drop into a tie for second place at 101 with two-time PPA Senior National Champion Bill Baus and 2010 Louisiana Open Champion Joe Lea. Reigning PPA Western Open Champion Frank Warren and teen putting prodigy Olivia Prokopova of the Czech Republic shared fifth position at 102. The last of the 34 money spots distributed in the tournament fell at a 72-hole score of 112. Low round honors for the event went to Smith and Lea, who each shot 22 on course # 3 in the third round.
Taking a cue from the professional division, action in the amateur division also featured a dominant four-stroke triumph. 2010 Louisiana Open APA Champion Danny Tatum and two-time Oklahoma APA State Champion Jason Van Buskirk charged out of the starting gates with matching initial-round 22's, the low round of the tournament in the amateur division. Tatum, a 49-year-old General Manager at Beauregard Country Club from DeRidder, LA, continued his strong play in the second round, firing 25 to open up at four-stroke lead over Van Buskirk at 47 at the event's halfway mark. Closing with a pair of 27's, Tatum posted a 72-hole total of 101 to capture his first-career National Tour amateur division title after multiple previous close misses. "I was feeling good about my game leading up to the week of the Nationals in Memphis," commented Tatum. "I still have some work to do, but my success in large part is due to two key factors: my belly length putter and my supportive wife." Van Buskirk notched runner-up honors at 105. At 106, defending champion Randal Smith finished third. Fresh off of his victory in the 2011 APA National Doubles Championship a day earlier, Johnny Brown completed the event in fourth position at 110. 2007 NC APA State Champion Chris Alley rounded out the amateur division's top five finishers at 111. The final of the sixteen amateur division expense reimbursement spots allocated in the event came at a four-round score of 122.
Play in the 2011 PPA National Championship week will resume at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 on courses # 2 and # 3 at the Memphis, TN Putt-Putt Fun Center. At that time, two tournaments, the 72-hole PPA Tournament Players Championship and the 72-hole PPA Senior National Championship, will be held simultaneously as part of the same tournament.
Article provided by Brad Lebo