$5,000 Western Open
Colorado Springs, CO (Academy Blvd)
August 3-4, 1968
Defeats All-Time Money Winner Neil Connor by 5 Strokes
Over 100 pros and amateurs from across the nation locked putters in one of the most heated duels in PPA history. So contested was the 8-round $5,000 event that even after the final ball of regulation was dropped, the Western Open title was still unclaimed. It took an 18-hole playoff between Bob Lipscomb of Fort Worth, TX, and all-time PPA leading money winner, Neil Connor of Greenville, SC, to determine the victor.
Both me finished regulation play with a 64-under-par 224. At no time during the final 36 holes of regulation play could anyone determine the winner. No less than eight men were battling for the lead during these two rounds. And at the final gun, the eight contestants were only five strokes apart. Offering the most excitement of the tournament was the fantastic finish of Aurora's (Colorado) Bill Ruskauff.
Lipscomb and Connor, playing in the same threesome finished regulation play in a tie - and in the lead. However, in the last threesome still playing was the determined Ruskauff. He approached the finish line 62-under par with three holes to play. With nerves of steel the relative newcomer to national competition wasted no time in acing holes 16 and 17, causing absolute mayhem throughout the packed gallery. A silence of respect greeted the now nervous youngster as he made his way through the wall of spectators and approached the tee of the 18th hole.
As he faced the final hole of regulation competition, he was even with the two leaders at 64-under par. A safe deuce would have put him in a three-way tie and the opportunity to claim victory in an 18-hole playoff. However, an ace would give him victory and the Western Open Championship. In the tradition of a true champion, Ruskauff decided he would go for the ace... and victory.
No one disputed the fact that if ever there was a pressure putt, this was it. The "hush" turned into an earth-shaking roar as the gallery witnessed Ruskauff's putt play off the backboard and pass the cup by a mere inch - however, the stroke was too firm and the ball continued on towards the edge of the ramp and down to the tee mat. The mumbling of the crowd disclosed the obvious. Ruskauff now had to make an ace putt in order to par the hole and tie with the leaders. It was just not to be, and he settled for 3 putts and a 63-under-par finish.
The excited gallery now directed their attentions to Lipscomb and Connor who were ready at hole #1 and a head-to-head 18-hole playoff match continued the run on excitement as both putters ran into early difficulty.
Connor found himself two-over par after the fourth hole, but one stroke up on Lipscomb who took a disastrous 6 on the fourth hole. However, he settled into a championship pattern and proceeded to ace the next seven holes to take a commanding lead over the shaken Connor and was able to finish with a so-so but victorious 31 to Connor's even-par 36.
The win netted Lipscomb $1,000, the Western Open title, and one of the eight playing positions for the 1969 Parade of Champions. Connor's runner-up position awarded him with $750.
Bill Ruskauff who finished tied for third place with John Ressman of Buffalo, NY, was able to complete the year as the leading money winner in the Western Region, thus earning a playing position on the Parade of Champions.
Jeff Jeskin of New Orleans, LA, 1967 Southern Open winner, set the pace for the first four rounds by posting a new four-round record of 107. He was unable to maintain his torrid pace the second day and finished in a three-way tie for fifth place.
As in all national competitions, the amateur division boasted championship form as 33 of the nation's top amateurs competed for top honors. 1968 National Amateur Champion, Randy DeLoach of Atlanta, GA, found stiff competition in the performance of Fort Collins amateur Ken Shields. At the end of four rounds, DeLoach held a one-stroke lead over Shields. The amateur champ finished with a 30-under-par 114.
On the second day, DeLoach was able to maintain his small lead for the first three rounds, but then faltered, losing not only the lead, but the Western Open amateur title as well. Shields posted a 144-hole total of 54-under-par 234. DeLoach carded a 53-under-par 235.
In the $1,000 Western Open Pro-Am Match Play event, top Indianapolis pro, Rick Smith, headed a pro-am team consisting of Greg Smith of Dallas, TX. Greg, the 9-year-old son of course owner, Doyle Smith, provided ample support to the hot putter of Rick Smith. The win vaulted 19-year-old Rick into the leading money winning bracket for the 1968 season with over $2,500 to his credit.
|1||Bob Lipscomb||Fort Worth, TX||29||27||26||30||25||34||28||25||224||$ 1,000.00|
|2||Neil Connor||Greenville, SC||27||28||29||27||33||29||24||27||224||$ 750.00|
|3||Bill Ruskauff||Aurora, CO||27||30||27||28||28||27||30||28||225||$ 500.00|
|John Ressman||Buffalo, NY||33||29||25||26||28||27||27||30||225||$ 500.00|
|5||John Connor||Greenville, SC||27||27||31||28||25||31||29||28||226||$ 341.66|
|Jeff Jeskin||New Orleans, LA||27||26||27||27||31||29||31||28||226||$ 341.66|
|Carl Strickland||Atlanta, GA||29||31||29||26||26||26||26||33||226||$ 341.66|
|8||Bob Poltis||Cleveland, OH||26||27||34||25||31||29||26||30||228||$ 250.00|
|9||Jimmy Harritos||Atlanta, GA||28||28||28||31||30||28||27||30||230||$ 212.50|
|Rick Smith||Indianapolis, IN||32||25||30||29||28||27||29||30||230||$ 212.50|
|11||Chris Adams||Baton Rouge, LA||28||31||32||24||29||29||29||31||233||$ 141.66|
|Bob Marcellino||Rockville, MD||32||30||30||27||31||25||32||26||233||$ 141.66|
|Larry Peters||Atlanta, GA||31||32||34||25||25||29||28||29||233||$ 141.66|
|14||Brice Bergesen||Houston, TX||29||25||30||31||27||30||33||29||234||$ 62.50|
|John Roessner||Indianapolis, IN||29||30||30||34||29||28||30||24||234||$ 62.50|
|DNC||Chuck Roberts||Fort Collins, CO|
|Doyle Smith||Dallas, TX|
|Paul Robinson||Denver, CO|
|Curley Risheill||Fort Collins, CO|
|Craig Reilly||Denver, CO|
|Bob Baumeister||Cincinnati, OH|
|Tim Rector||Colorado Springs, CO|
|Armin Ganz||Knoxville, TN|
|David Fairbanks||Manhattan, KS|
|1||Kent Shields||Fort Collins, CO||31||31||26||27||30||28||32||29||234|
|2||Randy DeLoach||Atlanta, GA||28||28||30||28||29||29||31||32||235|
|3||David Shirey||Shreveport, LA||32||30||32||30||33||28||31||27||243|
|4||Gary Newton||Denver, CO||34||28||30||35||30||31||29||27||244|
|Terry Thomas||Fort Worth, TX||33||26||33||32||30||29||35||26||244|
|DNC||Greg Smith||Dallas, TX|
|Lyle Koontz||Fort Collins, CO|
|Gerald Knott||Dallas, TX|
Article, scores and photos taken from Putt-Putt World Magazine, Volume 10, Number 6 (September 1968)