Greg Newport Defeats Rick Baird and Ed Grajewski in Playoff For Win in Richmond, VA
9 April 2011 - Richmond, VA - Course manager and PPA Hall of Fame member Gary Hinshaw welcomed the Virginia PPA Tour to the second of three weekend 54-hole tournaments on course # 3 at the immaculately-maintained Richmond, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center. As in the day's earlier event, players were treated to relatively ideal playing conditions. With 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird having shot a perfect 18 and amateur Billy Caudle having established a new all-time APA division 54-hole scoring record of 66 in the day's previous tournament, expectations abounded for low afternoon scoring. However, the field failed to take advantage of the opportunity, as the top twelve top finishers in the professional division posted tightly-bunched, pedestrian 54-hole scores between 74 and 78.
Baird rode the momentum of his historic morning performance to jump into a share of the first-round lead with Thomas Rawles at 23. 1991 VA State Champion Ed Grajewski used a tournament-low second-round 22 to leapfrog into a tie with Baird atop the 36-hole leaderboard at 47. Rawles and 2009 Dogwood Open Champion Dennis Biesma hovered just a stroke behind at 48, with reigning PPA National Champion Greg Newport remaining in close pursuit at 49 after steady opening rounds of 25 and 24. With Baird, Grajewski, Rawles, and Biesma all posting closing-round scores of 27, Newport manufactured a solid final-round 25 to force a playoff with Baird and Grajewski at 74. 2003 PPA National Champion Robert Johnson soared into a fourth-place tie with Rawles and Biesma at 75 by virtue of a third-round 23. The last of the ten cash spots distributed in the tournament came at score of 78.
In the ensuing playoff, action began at a furious pace, as Newport and Grajewski each recorded an outward-nine score of 11. Baird remained close with an opening-nine 13. The trio matched aces on holes 10-13. Grajewski became the first to blink on the inward nine, as he failed to ace the 14th hole. Newport and Baird aced, giving Newport the outright lead by a stroke over Grajewski and by two over Baird. All three players deuced the 15th and 16th holes. Newport and Baird birdied the mercurial 17th hole, and as Grajewski made par, Newport marched to the 18th tee with a two-shot lead over each of his opponents. Prudently, Newport laid up the 18th hole for a tap-in deuce and in the process earned his first triumph of the 2011 PPA season with an impressive playoff score of 23.
In the amateur division, reigning APA National Champion Joey Graybeal bullied the field with opening rounds of 23 and 22 and at 45 opened up a five-stroke lead over 2004 JPA National Champion John Petrie. Graybeal subsequently opened the door for his amateur foes however, as he fired a closing-round 30. Two-time APA National Doubles Champion Malcolm Shumaker orchestrated an inspired clubhouse charge with a closing-round 25, but his valiant effort fell a stroke short of success. Graybeal's 54-hole total of 75 gave him the fourth win of his impressive 2011 campaign. Shumaker notched runner-up honors at 76. At 77, Petrie finished third. Three-time VA APA State Champion Conway Coffey and rising amateur division star Chris Chafin, Ph.D. tied for fourth place at 80. The final of the eight amateur division expense reimbursement spots awarded in the event fell at a total of 83.
Action will resume on the Virginia PPA Tour with another 54-hole tournament on course # 3 at the Richmond, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center commencing at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2011.
Article provided by Brad Lebo