$8,500 Western Open

Lake Charles, LA (Petro Point Dr)

April 14-15, 2012

Greg Ward Defies High Winds to Capture His Fourth-Career Western Open Title

The PPA National Tour ventured to course #1 at the beautiful Lake Charles, LA Putt-Putt Fun Center to contest the initial event on the 2012 PPA National Tour schedule, the PPA Western Open, hosted by the PPA Southwest Putting Tour. Course owner and current APA member Greg Simpson and his staff worked diligently preparing the course in the weeks leading up to the event to create ideal playing conditions ripe for low scoring. With an abbreviated 108-hole format having been instituted for the PPA Western, Southern, Northern, and Eastern Opens in 2012, pundits of the sport anticipated a tightly-bunched and highly-volatile leaderboard in this event. However, violent, swirling, and unpredictable high winds throughout the weekend challenged the field, resulting in a wide range of field scoring.

PPA Hall of Fame member Greg Ward of Loganville, GA, the PPA's all-time leader in career wins and money earnings, began the final eight holes of the tournament in a three-way tie for the lead with final-day playing partners 2009 PPA National Champion Tony Varnadore and 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo. Undaunted, Ward adeptly aced six of his final eight holes through whipping winds to edge out Varnadore by one stroke and capture his fourth-career PPA Western Open title. Ward posted rounds of 25, 22, 21, 26, 25, and 26 for a 71-under-par, 108-hole total of 145 to earn the $800.00 winner's check. Always as gracious in victory as he is talented, Ward commented following his win, "I can't remember a tournament in which all three players in the final group were tied for first place with eight holes left. The wind definitely added to the craziness. I was very happy that things went my way at the end of the tournament. It could have just as easily been Varnadore or Lebo who came out on top. I got a few breaks along the way that helped me escape with the win." Varnadore settled for runner-up honors at 146. 2008 GA State Champion Jeff Carr performed very steadily throughout the event to finish third at 149. A two-way, fourth-place tie at 150 included Lebo and former PPA television contestant Joe Lea.

Action commenced on a sunsplashed but windswept Saturday afternoon with Lebo seizing the early lead with a sizzling opening-round 22. Defending champion Frank Warren began his title defense with vigor, posting 23 to tie PPA Hall of Fame member Jay Klapper for second place. At 24, former PPA television contestant Jeff McDonald held fourth position. A considerable gaggle of players bunched in a fifth-place tie at 25 included Ward, Varnadore, Carr, reigning PPA National Champion Andy Coradini, Lake Charles putting icon Byron Kirby, 1975 PPA Player of the Year Dan Anders, and always-dangerous James White.

With a pair of dazzling second-round 22's, Ward and Varnadore joined Lebo, who fired a second-round 25, in a three-way tie atop the 36-hole leaderboard at 47. Carr and Klapper stood in joint fourth position at 49.

Riding the momentum which he created in the second round, Ward crafted an even more spectacular third-round 21, the low round of the tournament, to establish the first-day lead at an eye-popping 54-hole total of 68. Lebo shot a third-round 24 to take sole possession of second place at 71. Varnadore posted 25 and would join Ward and Lebo in the closing-day's final pairing at 72. At 74, Carr lurked in fourth position. A three-way, fifth-place tie at 76 included 2012 PPA Hall of Fame inductee Randy Reeves, Klapper, and Thomas Rawles, who climbed up the leaderboard with a third-round 22.

Despite an early-morning starting time for the final day of play, the field once again battled violent and unpredictable gusting winds throughout the second day of action. Ward began his march to glory admirably, firing a fourth-round 26 to remain atop the leaderboard after 72 holes at 94. With respective rounds of 25 and 24, however, Lebo and Varnadore gained ground on Ward, as the duo hovered in a tie for second place at 96, just two strokes behind Ward's lead. Carr opened the day with 24 to remain in fourth position at 98. At 102, Lea stood alone in fifth place.

With a penultimate-round 25, Ward maintained a two-stroke advantage after 90 holes at 119. Lebo equalled Ward's fifth-round 25 to stay within two strokes of the lead, in second place at 121. Varnadore dropped into third position at 122 after firing 26. Carr remained in contention with 25 to hold fourth place at 123. At 127, Lea entered the final round alone in fifth.

The ever-increasing winds continued to wreak havoc on the field as players embarked on the event's final round. The competition intensified through the first nine holes, as Ward, Lebo, and Varnadore carded respective final-round outward nine scores of 14, 13, and 11. Ward and Varnadore began the inward nine tied for the lead, with Lebo just one stroke behind them. After successfully converting a nightmarish deuce effort at the 9th, Lebo recorded an unanswered ace on the fickle 10th hole to make it a three-way tie for the lead with eight holes left to play in the event. Lebo struggled in the remainder of the round, however, and the tournament developed into a two-way dogfight between Ward and Varnadore on the closing eight holes. Ward aced holes 11-14 to open up a two-shot lead on Varnadore. Varnadore responded with an ace on the 15th hole to cut Ward's lead to one stroke. Ward aced the 16th hole to regain a two-stroke advantage over Varnadore, but Varnadore once again cut Ward's lead to one shot with a birdie at the 17th. With honors, Varnadore made a hole-in-one on the 18th hole. Needing an ace to win, Ward struck his ace effort on the 18th hole perfectly, and as his tee shot found the bottom of the cup for a hard-fought sixth-round 26, Ward notched his fourth career PPA Western Open title with a 108-hole total of 145.

Varnadore earned runner-up honors at 146 with his final-round 24. With a closing-round 26, Carr jumped into third position at 149. Lebo and Lea tied for fourth place at 150. Charging the clubhouse with a finishing-round 22, Reeves maneuvered into sixth at 152. 2007 PPA National Champion Rick Baird courageously rebounded from a disappointing first day with a second-day 54-hole total of 72 to complete the tournament in seventh position at 154. A two-way tie for eighth place included two-time PPA National Match Play Champion Charlie Greenwalt and 1968 PPA Parade of Champions participant Gary Love, who tied Ward for the tournament's low round with a final-round 21. Six-time Texas/Western Tour Champion Jeffrey Smith, who climbed up the final leaderboard with a closing-round 22, and Rawles rounded out the event's top ten finishers, tied for tenth position at 156.

The cash line for the 28 money spots awarded in the professional division fell at a 108-hole score of 168. Ward, Varnadore, Carr, Lebo, and Lea accepted the five spots offered to the top five finishers in the 2012 PPA Western Open for free entry fees into the professional division of the 2012 PPA Tournament Players Championship to be held during the PPA National Championship week.

Course 1

PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total Cash
1Greg Ward252221262526145$ 800.00
2Tony Varnadore252225242624146$ 700.00
3Jeff Carr252425242526149$ 600.00
4Joe Lea262526252523150$ 510.00
Brad Lebo222524252529150$ 510.00
6Randy Reeves262525282622152$ 430.00
7Rick Baird273025232524154$ 390.00
8Charlie Greenwalt282827232326155$ 337.50
Gary Love272427272921155$ 337.50
10Thomas Rawles282622282725156$ 290.00
Jeffrey Smith272626282722156$ 290.00
12Jeff McDonald242729252627158$ 260.00
13Joe Shirey312624232828160$ 240.00
Frank Warren233125252828160$ 240.00
15Mike Baldoza292228263026161$ 215.00
Jay Klapper232627282631161$ 215.00
Greg Newport312826232627161$ 215.00
18Wade Sahmel253228262625162$ 200.00
19Brice Bergesen272329272829163$ 190.00
Andy Coradini252728282926163$ 190.00
Rainey Statum272724282928163$ 190.00
22David Jones302926272230164$ 177.50
Matt McCaslin272628272729164$ 177.50
24Rick Rybaczek282927252729165$ 170.00
25Dan Anders252830262829166$ 158.33
Byron Kirby252924322927166$ 158.33
James White253027302826166$ 158.33
28Tim Jones302628282630168$ 150.00
29Tony Newcomb302832282823169
30David Barnett313030272429171
Randy Orr292930272927171
32Rick Ossenfort293227272929173
33Brexton Friend312734282826174
Pat Simpson303025303029174
35Greg Roberts302931283027175
36Lee Messinger302831293228178
37Jon Drexler322732293029179

In the amateur division, Geoffrey Mosk of Pearland, TX outdeuled youthful 2009 Lousiana Open APA Champion Ty Newcomb of Moss Bluff, LA in a tightly-contested 18-hole playoff to earn the first National Tour APA title of his career. Newcomb built a five-shot lead after the first day of play with opening rounds of 26, 23, and 26 for a 54-hole total of 75. Mosk, who fired first-day rounds of 31, 25, and 24, and Lake Charles local standout Charles Cox joined Newcomb in the closing day's final pairing, tied at 80. Mosk and Newcomb separated from the rest of the amateur field after 90 holes. With stellar fourth and fifth rounds of 23 and 24 for a 90-hole total of 127, Mosk pole-vaulted into a two-stroke lead over Newcomb, who began the second day with matching rounds of 27. The talented teen saved his best for last, however, as Newcomb made an inspired clubhouse run to manufacture a final-round 22, the low round of the event in the amateur division, and tie Mosk, who carded a last-round 24, with an impressive 108-hole score of 151. In the ensuing 18-hole playoff, Mosk charged to a three-stroke lead after eight holes and made the turn leading Newcomb, 12-14. Newcomb cut the deficit to one shot by acing the 13th hole, but with unanswered aces on the 14th and 15th holes, Mosk again increased his lead to three strokes and held on to triumph in the playoff by a final tally of 26-28. 2010 APA National Champion Joey Graybeal completed the event in third place at 159. With respective closing rounds of 25 and 24, 2011 ProPutters.com Classic APA Champion Danny Tatum and 2009 Western Open APA Champion Mickey DeLucca shared fourth position at 163. The final of the nine amateur division expense reimbursement spots allocated in the tournament fell at a score of 167.

The PPA National Tour membership extends its thanks and expresses it great appreciation to course owner Greg Simpson, the Simpson family, and the course staff for their warm hospitality and extensive efforts in hosting a very successful tournament weekend. The PPA National Tour returns to action on the weekend of June 2-3, 2012 when the PPA Southern Putting Tour will host the 108-hole PPA Southern Open on course # 2 at the High Point, NC Putt-Putt Fun Center. Action is scheduled to commence at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 2 and at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 3.

Course 1

AMATEUR DIVISION
Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total Cash
1Geoffrey Mosk312524232424151$ 40.00
2Ty Newcomb262326272722151$ 20.00
3Joey Graybeal282429262626159$ 20.00
4Mickey DeLucca332623263124163$ 20.00
Danny Tatum292726282825163$ 20.00
6Larry Smith282825292529164$ 20.00
Bonnie White292631272724164$ 20.00
8Charles Cox262430292928166$ 20.00
9Nathan Anderson272925322727167$ 20.00
10Alan Sahmel282926253030168
11Steve Tanton332727282826169
12Andrew Barbie312730272728170
Trevor Lewin292827282929170
14Greg Simpson323029243125171
15Adam Sahmel312729303224173
Todd Trent302830263029173
17Jack Ramsey302827312832176
18Walter Henry282931323228180
19Lynn Self313533333130193
20Ken Stanfill443538343937227

Article provided by Brad Lebo.