$11,180 Northern Open

Warren, OH

July 6-7, 2013

Nate Nichols Win $ 10,000 PPA Northern Open for First Major!

The wait is over and the drought has been lifted.

"It's a relief, really," said Nate Nichols, the 2013 Professional Putters Association Northern Open champion.

But he didn't know of his new title until the very end.

"Not until I turned my scorecard in and they told me," Nichols said. "I knew I put up a good number and it was going to take a good number to beat me. There's just too many good players and anything could have happened."

Nichols, a 38-year-old school teacher, captured his first national Putt-Putt tournament title after 10 years on the tour with an eight-round score of 209.

"I've been in the hunt in about seven majors," Nichols said. "I won a doubles championship a few years ago, but never a medal play tournament like this. I've been close a few times but it feels good to finally get one because then you can go out and relax a little bit. All of your buddies got one and I can be a part of the conversation.

"Now, it's nice to get one and head back home."

He resides in Columbus, Ind., and with summers off, he devotes much of his time to practicing and finding putt-putt tournaments across the country. Nichols plans to play in Louisville, Ky. next weekend. For his first-place finish, Nichols earned $1,500.

"I'll put it back into my putt-putt and mini golf fund," he said. "Just put it in the kitty and keep going."

Nichols shot two rounds of 23 on Sunday. He finished the fourth round shooting 11 on the front nine and 12 on the back. He had 14 hole-in-ones in the final round. Jeff Carr, Rick Alessi and Angelo Korogianos also shot a round of 23 over the weekend.

"You have to be lucky to shoot a 23 on this course," Nichols said. "Anybody will tell you that."

Chris Chafin, Kevin Rutledge, Tony Varnadore, Tim Jones, Jim Cruse, Rick Rybaczek, Dan McCasin and Charlie Greenwalt shot at least one round of 24. Greenwalt tied with Jeff Spanhour for second place, each shooting 211 over the weekend.

"Second is the first loser still but it's been a while since I finished in the top 5," said Greenwalt, an Indianapolis native.

Hailing from the same state as Nichols, the two have forged a friendship over the years. They each practice at a well-kept Putt-Putt in Central Indiana, much like the one owned by Renea Ackerman on state Route 422.

"Nate is progressively playing more and more and getting better," Greenwalt said. "He's been wanting a victory and he earned it over the weekend. "He's learning to play where he can make them all. He isn't afraid to take a risk and be up at the top."

In 2010, the last time the Warren Putt-Putt hosted the Northern Open, Atlanta native Jay Klapper won the title with a score of 208. Since then, he's picked up a new method of focus for the course.

"I was hypnotized for confidence, concentration and relaxation," said Klapper, who checked in with a 224 this weekend. "That made it a lot easier and I still do the hypnosis part when I go out there."

Local putter Dave Jones shot a 240, but only broke 30 once on Sunday. His best round was a 28 which he earned twice on Saturday. Varnadore led the tournament entering Sunday and finished in fourth with a 213. Korogianos, a Toledo native, finished tied for third with a 212.

The next big professional tournament is the first week of September in Burlington, N.C. Nichols, and a few others, will also play in miniature golf-style tournaments. Nichols takes a week off of work in October to play in Myrtle Beach.

"The competition is much better in this," he said. "The competitions are much more skillful. So, it's way more difficult to win a putt-putt tournament than miniature golf."

John Kroponiak won the amateur division title by five strokes with a 220.

Course 3

Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Cash
1Nate Nichols2723273029232723209$ 1,500.00
2Charlie Greenwalt2727262726252924211$ 900.00
Jeff Spainhour2626262927242627211$ 900.00
4Angelo Korogianos2823282827262725212$ 700.00
5Kevin Lacey2828262425272827213$ 475.00
Tony Varnadore2824252726282926213$ 475.00
7Brad Lebo2728272425263028215$ 385.00
Lee Messinger2825262925272728215$ 385.00
9Chris Chafin2824263028262826216$ 350.00
10Greg Newport2729262527302726217$ 325.00
Randy Reeves2526253228253125217$ 325.00
12Rick Alessi2529243030232928218$ 295.00
Andy Coradini2826283127262626218$ 295.00
Danny McCaslin2730263127262724218$ 295.00
Greg Ward2929262526282827218$ 295.00
16Jeff Carr2430293128282623219$ 270.00
17Kevin Rutledge2524283428282924220$ 260.00
18Tim Jones2826303124292726221$ 250.00
19Daryl Freeman2826322927252827222$ 230.00
Jerry Pinotti3127262926282926222$ 230.00
James Weber2628252628312929222$ 230.00
22Rick Rybaczek3325272929262430223$ 205.00
Monte Snyder2429282826282832223$ 205.00
24Jim Cruse2828293130252429224$ 175.00
Jay Klapper2927273027292530224$ 175.00
26Roger Beckerman2626292629293228225$ 165.00
Jeff Garrison2725282729282932225$ 165.00
28Rick Baird2628293127303025226$ 150.00
Jim Engel2826253229302927226$ 150.00
30Rick Ossenfort2827293129253028227$ 140.00
Kyle Poole3028272925262933227$ 140.00
Jeffrey Smith2731272827312927227$ 140.00
33Ken Hastings2533292927282730228
34Thomas Rawles2732263229262830230
James White3326273030312528230
36Bob Marcellino2628303329272733233
37Bill Baus2830263228293133237
Scott Buddie3029293725283029237
39David Jones2928312830343129240
40Jeff McDonald3229283629302829241
41Paul Johns3031293134302631242
42Harry Sykes3230353130302730245
43Jon Drexler2834303232283430248
44Dom Perry3635313431323131261
45Matt Bellner3237323436363031268
46John Bambling30303033283329WD
47Gretchen Smith47454542WD

Course 2

Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Cash
1John Kropinak2528302826272828220$ 80.00
2Randal Smith3328242828302529225$ 40.00
3Donnie Carpenter3130262827282731228$ 40.00
4Joey Graybeal2730312732303029236$ 40.00
Tim Pope3029293226302832236$ 40.00
6Matt Male2829333029293129238$ 40.00
Danny Tatum3431262731322928238$ 40.00
8Zach Martin3130322732302829239$ 40.00
9Pat Riley3228283231302932242$ 40.00
10Terry Sanner2933302932283032243$ 40.00
11Bonnie White3131322931283131244$ 40.00
12Ron Killian3034293129293332247$ 40.00
13Jeff Studer3137323028313032251
14Herb Hull3333313331313234258
15Rodney Ashley3532353034293034259
16Jeff Brown3129353331343433260
17Bill Combs3332333132343732264
18Don Niznik3833373533363333278
19Mickey Delucca3434333242353337280
20Carol Alessi3439334032343338283

Article by Matthew Peaslee - Tribune Chronicle - TribToday.com