$10,490 Western Open

Memphis, TN (Summer Ave)

April 20-21, 2013

Thomas Rawles Earns $10,490 PPA Western Open

Journeyman Thomas Rawles rolled in a 28-foot downhill putt on the 19th extra hole to claim the $10,000 PPA Western Open and his first major crown on the Professional Putters Association tour.
"Winning this first major title is really huge for me," said Rawles, 42, of Portsmouth, VA, after his winning hole-in-one denied reigning PPA National Champion Greg Ward a fifth Western Open title and a 17th major PPA championship.

"I was starting to think that I might never get one." Rawles and Ward tied at the conclusion of the 144-hole event, each with 212, 76-under par, for the two days of competition on April 20-21, prompting an 18-hole playoff that saw both competitors fire 26, 10, under par, on the lightening-fast fairways that played havoc with a number the sport's accomplished competitors.

"I hit the shot perfect," Ward, 51, said of his attempt on the deciding hole, "but it simply didn't react the way I thought it would, and the shot missed closely, giving Thomas the opening he needed to win the tournament." Rawles sent his victory shot on the descending fairway off the left bump-board, and then saw his ball bound firmly from the back bump-board and into the hole and leaving Ward to wonder about what could have been in a career as the organization's most decorated player.

"His shot was perfect," Ward said, "and it rolled right in the middle of the cup." Rawles raised his Scotty Cameron putter high in exaltation before being swarmed by fellow competitors.

"When Greg missed hole one in sudden death," Rawles said, "I was thinking that I probably just got my last chance to win, and that if I don't make this one Greg wasn't going to give me another chance." Rawles fired rounds of 26, 27, 27, 29, 25, 25, 27 and 26 for his 212 total, which earned him $1,500 and vaults him into the points lead for PPA Player of the Year honors. Ward had rounds of 27, 27, 30, 28, 27,24, 23 and 26 for his 212 total, worth $1,000.

Jim Cruse, the first day leader from Baltimore, Ohio, finished third at 213 for $800; while Joe Lea of Katy, Texas, and Nate Nichols of Columbus, Ohio, shared fourth at 214, each earning $600.

Rounding out the top 10 were Charlie Greenwalt of Indianapolis, Ind., and Lee Messenger of Dallas, Texas, both at 218 for $425 each; Danny McCaslin of Holly Spring, N.C. At 219 for $000; Tim Jones of Orlando, Fla., at 221 and earning $350; and Jeff McDonald of Tucson, Ariz., and Bill Kirby Jr. of Fayetteville, N.C. at 222 for $310 each.

Ward gained an early lead in the 18-hole playoff, taking a 2-stroke advantage after four holes.

"I got a little nervous after missing the first 4 holes and felt fortunate to be only down 2 strokes," said Rawles, who recorded his 10th PPA Tour victory. "At this point I was thinking that if I fell any further behind there would be no way I could catch Greg. Topping him on 5 helped calm me down and it gave me some confidence. I was then able to make the rest of the front nine, pulling even with Greg after he missed holes 6 and 8."

Rawles gained the lead with a hole-in-one at the 11th, and then added aces that were match by Ward at the 12th and 13th. he cozied up the difficult 14th for a par, and not willing to risk disaster at the "layup" hole.

Ward, with a precision put, drew even with an ace and added holes-in-one on Nos. 15 and 16, all matched by Rawles. "When he made 16, it was huge because it put a lot of pressure on me to make it behind him," Rawles said. "I was just trying to concentrate on hitting a good smooth putt."

Neither could find victory on final two holes.

"Both of our shots on holes 17 and 18 were not our best efforts," Ward said. "I guess you could say the pressure was getting to both of us."

Then, Rawles delivered the winning putt.

"It was disappointing to lose in the playoff, but I'm finding it hard to be to terribly upset because I played so well," said Ward, of Loganville, Ga., the 2012 and 2001 PPA National Champion and winner of PPA Western Open titles in 2012, 2010, 2008 and 1999. "Thomas played great also, and it was cool to see him win the tournament even though it was at my expense. The playoff was so close that it was going to come down to one shot to eventually decide the outcome."

A PPA Hall of Fame member, Ward was a hands down favorite entering playoff, with a resume that includes 16 PPA major titles, 31 PPA National Tour victories, PPA Putter of the Decade for for 1990-1999 and 2000-2009, PPA Player of the Year in 2012, 2010, 2008, 2001, 1999, 1998 and 1987, the PPA National Tour Tracy Moore Low-Stroke Average Award in 2012, 2008, 2003, 2001, 1999, 1998, 1989 and 1988, in addition to 164 PPA State Tour triumphs.

Rawles' career may have pales in comparison. His career victories including PPA Virginia State Tour victories in 1994 Richmond and Fredericksburg; 1995 in Norfolk; 1998 in Richmond and Newport News; 2000 in Fredericksburg; 2001 in Richmond; and 2003 in Roanoke. National victories had eluded him.

Until taking on the 42-competitor field in this city, just east of the Mississippi.

His stroke was firm.

His resolve without fail.

His championship within grasp.

His final stroke was his long-awaited moment.

"I'm just excited to win my first major," Rawles told Matt Bellner as part of a PPA documentary the Texas pro is developing. "And over such as great champion as Greg Ward. And, I am thankful for the support of the others pros who were following the playoff. I could just feel their energy." Rawles now turns his thoughts to the $10,000 Northern Open, where the second leg of the 2013 PPA tour is slated for Warren, Ohio. "With having to beat Greg, whose accomplishments in this sport are second to none, this really gives this victory that extra special meaning," Rawles said. "And I am hoping it gives me the confidence I need to keep going forward."

Course 3

Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Cash
1Thomas Rawles2627272925252726212$ 1,500.00
2Greg Ward2727302827242326212$ 1,000.00
3Jim Cruse2428252828282527213$ 800.00
4Joe Lea2730252426243028214$ 600.00
Nate Nichols3026252528272726214$ 600.00
6Charlie Greenwalt2631292626272528218$ 425.00
Lee Messinger2728262928252728218$ 425.00
8Danny McCaslin2927272526282928219$ 380.00
9Tim Jones2730263329252526221$ 350.00
10Bill Kirby Jr2827273124312331222$ 310.00
Jeff Mcdonald3028302827262627222$ 310.00
12Chris Chafin3130302630262525223$ 280.00
Brad Lebo2928292627282927223$ 280.00
Bob Marcellino2824303229272429223$ 280.00
15Andy Coradini2629312828262729224$ 255.00
Jeffrey Smith2728282830262928224$ 255.00
17Jerry Pinotti3124283327273025225$ 235.00
Randy Reeves3129302928262527225$ 235.00
19Jay Klapper2927292728322926227$ 220.00
20Gary Love2929262929292928228$ 210.00
21Daryl Freeman2930262533302630229$ 195.00
Matt McCaslin3127283129292529229$ 195.00
23Brice Bergesen2627292628313132230$ 185.00
Greg Newport3030302432283026230$ 185.00
25Ken Hastings3126302831272831232$ 165.00
David Jones2931253030313026232$ 165.00
27Kyle Poole3032262930302927233$ 150.00
28John Bambling2833322828302927235$ 75.00
Jeff Garrison2633272829323030235$ 75.00
Gary Hinshaw3026263228332931235$ 75.00
Rick Ossenfort3128332828293028235$ 75.00
32Monte Snyder2731302930293030236
Tony Varnadore3031282929272834236
34Robert Johnson2826283430293429238
35Kevin Rutledge3131312730313029240
36David Barnett3228293030332930241
37Pat Simpson2835293329312929243
38Harry Sykes3233303129303029244
39Angelo Korogianos2930333231303131247
40Dwain Willett2937323129333032253
41Matt Bellner3836363640343437291
42Bill Baus33323129WD

Course 2

Place Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Cash
1Randal Smith2427222830283429222$ 50.00
2Donnie Carpenter3028293027302929232$ 40.00
3Danny Tatum2732283030282632233$ 40.00
4Joey Graybeal2833292828283031235$ 40.00
5Matt Male2931313128293225236$ 40.00
6Greg Simpson2934313128293028240$ 40.00
7Lynn Self3031303231302928241$ 40.00
8Todd Trent3131292829323032242$ 20.00
Jeff Studer3228353131292828242$ 20.00
10Larry Smith3132312729363131248
11Bryan Gentry2930343029323134249
12Tom Russell3432313035293230253
13David Ramsey4338343133363233280