Vince Batten Surges to Victory in Richmond, VA With Final-Round 22
10 April 2011 - Richmond, VA - The Virginia PPA Tour held the final of three weekend 54-hole tournaments on historic course # 3 at the Richmond, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center. Overnight showers dampened the course's carpets, leading to favorable playing conditions on the sunny, pleasant spring morning.
In a closely-fought contest in the professional division, 2007 PPA Tournament Players Champion Vince Batten entered the final round of play two strokes behind 36-hole leader Dennis Biesma, who stood alone atop the second-round leaderboard at 48. Batten followed opening rounds of 25 and 25 with a brilliant final-round 22 to erase the deficit and capture a one-stroke triumph with a 54-hole total of 72. Having been hampered by significant shoulder pain in the past several seasons, Batten ended an uncharacteristic victory drought which extended back to his win in a March 2010 VA Tour event in Lynchburg, VA. Biesma settled for runner-up honors at 73. Two-time PPA National Doubles Champion Rick Rybaczek matched Batten for low round of the tournament with a heroic third-round 22 to join reigning PPA National Champion Greg Newport, 2000 Dogwood Open Champion Rusty Taylor, and two-time Virginia Open Champion Manfred Stewart in a four-way, third-place logjam at 75. The final of the ten money spots awarded in the tournament fell at a 54-hole score of 78.
An epic tightly-contested battle also developed in the amateur division. Decorated amateur veteran Conway Coffey soared into the opening-round lead at 25, but after two rounds relinquished the lead to fellow Lynchburg, VA standout Wade Driskill, who fired consecutive rounds of 26 to establish the 36-hole lead at 52. With one round remaining, nine of the thirteen amateur division contestants stood within three strokes of Driskill's lead. Defending champion Joey Graybeal, 2004 JPA National Champion John Petrie, and two-time APA National Champion Clayton Craft, Esq. posted respective final-round scores of 25, 24, and 25 to complete the tournament deadlocked atop the 54-hole leaderboard at 78. An 18-hole playoff would determine a victor. Dr. Chris Chafin charged the clubhouse with a third-round 25 to finish alone in fourth place at 79. Driskill recorded a disappointing closing-round 29 but held on to tie for fifth position with 2009 VA Open APA Champion Terry Sanner. The last of the seven APA division expense reimbursement spots distributed in the event came at a three-round total of 82.
In the ensuing 18-hole amateur division playoff, Graybeal grabbed a one-stroke lead at the turn over both Petrie and Craft with an outward-nine 12. Graybeal widened his lead to two strokes after his ace went unanswered on the 11th hole. Craft matched Graybeal's birdie at 12 to remain within two strokes of the playoff lead, while Petrie slipped to three behind Graybeal. After the trio exchanged deuces on the 13th and 14th holes, Graybeal birdied the treacherous 15th hole. With Craft making an untimely bogey and Petrie mustering only a par, Graybeal stepped to the 16th tee with a comfortable four-stroke lead on each of his opponents. Graybeal ultimately shot 12 on the back nine and cruised to victory with a stellar playoff score of 24. In the process, Graybeal earned his second win of the weekend and fifth of the 2011 season.
The Virginia PPA Tour membership would like to extend thanks to host professional, PPA Hall of Fame member, and course manager Gary Hinshaw, his wife Patsy, and their staff for welcoming the tour to their picturesque Richmond, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center and hosting a weekend of successful and memorable tour events. Their hospitality and efforts in maintaining the course in ideal playing condition were greatly appreciated by the tour players. The Virginia PPA Tour will resume its schedule with three tournaments on the weekend of May 21-22, 2011 on course # 2 at the Roanoke, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center. Two 54-hole contests will be held on Saturday, May 21. The first of those events will tee off at 11:00 a.m., with the second tournament scheduled to commence at approximately 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, May 22, the first Virginia Tour major championship of the season, the 72-hole Virginia Putting Classic, will begin at 10:00 a.m. Potential tournament participants in the professional division should prepare diligently for Sunday's event, as history and conventional wisdom dictate that the defending champion will be hitting the ball sweetly.
Article provided by Brad Lebo