September 24-25, 2005 - High Point, NC - The North Carolina PPA Tour contested its final event of the 2005 season, the North Carolina State Championship, on course # 2 in High Point, NC. The two-day, 144-hole event was played in nearly-ideal conditions, featuring moderate late-summer temperatures, overcast skies, and minimal winds. The scoring for the closed field of 35 qualifiers was accordingly much lower than it had been in tour events on the course in the past two years. Martinsville putting icon Randal Smith seized the first-day, 72-hole lead with a score of 100, with2005 PPA National Champion Jay Klapper in close pursuit at 101. As Smith and Klapper struggled in the opening round of second-day action, however, the tournament developed into a four-player shootout between Smith, Klapper, 2005 North Carolina PPA Tour Player of the Year Brad Lebo, and 2002 North Carolina State Champion Ray Guthrie. Lebo and Guthrie posted sizzling fifth-round scores of 22 and 23, respectively, to surge to within a stroke of Smith and Klapper after 90 holes. The four players jockeyed for position through the sixth and seventh rounds, with Smith heading into the final round with a 126-hole total of 178, one stroke ahead of Lebo and two shots ahead of Klapper and Guthrie. Playing several groups ahead of the other leaders, Lebo posted a final-round 23 for a second-day 72-hole score of 94 and a final 144-hole total of 202. Smith, unaware of Lebo's posted total of 202, had to make the last 5 Holes to force a playoff. Smith made the 14th Hole, but narrowly missed Hole #15 when his putt turned away at the last possible moment. Smith regrouped from that miss and made the final three holes but it was not enough to catch Lebo. With Smith's narrow miss on Hole #15, Lebo captured his first North Carolina State Championship title and his tenth victory of the 2005 PPA season. In the process, Lebo became the first professional to have won the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia State Championships in a career. Smith notched runner-up honors with a 144-hole total of 203. Klapper finished in third position at 205, one stroke ahead of Guthrie, who finished alone in fourth at 206. Bunched at209 in a four-way tie for fifth position were Rick Rybaczek, defending champion Gary English, four-time North Carolina State Champion Bill Kirby, and Bob Haizlip. Rounding out the top ten in a tie for ninth place at 210 were 2003 North Carolina State Champion Vince Batten and PPA Hall of Fame member Daryl Freeman.
Action began with nine players completing the first round in a tie for the lead at 26. Bunched atop the opening-round leader board were Lebo, Klapper,Rybaczek, Haizlip, Batten, Billy Caudle, Lee Witcofski, 2005 Elton Davis Memorial Champion Lance Perdue, and 2005 Carolinas' Open Champion Randy Reeves. Another stroke back in a three-way tie for tenth position at 27 were 2001 PPA National Champion Greg Ward, Bear Landin, and Randy Carter.The top of the scoreboard remained closely-packed after 36 holes. Lebo posted a second-round 24 to move into sole possession of the 36-hole lead at 50. Batten and Klapper shared second position after two rounds at 51. Tied for fourth place at 52 were Perdue and Randal Smith, who rebounded from an opening-round 29 with a second-round 23. Haizlip, Freeman, Tony Varnadore, and Caudle hovered three strokes off of the lead, tied for sixth place at 53.Firing respective third-round scores of 24 and 25, Smith and Klapper seized tournament co-leadership after 54 holes at 76. Caudle posted a third-round 24 to soar into third place at 77. Another stroke back of the leaders in a tie for fourth place at 78 were Lebo and Varnadore. Sharing sixth position at 79 were English, Batten, and Perdue.
Smith continued his torrid pace in the fourth round, and by virtue of a fourth-round 24 took the lead at 100 at the tournament's halfway mark. Klapper stayed close to the lead with a fourth-round 25, finishing the firstday of competition in second place with a 72-hole total of 101. By shootingfourth-round scores of 24 and 25 respectively, Rybaczek and Varnadore moved into a tie for third position at 104. Deadlocked in a fifth-place logjam at106 were English, Batten, Ward, and Perdue.
Continued ideal playing conditions greeted players as the second day of the tournament began. Many players took advantage, as field scoring was significantly lower than that of the event's first day. Smith and Klapper posted respective lackluster fifth-round scores of 29 and 28, allowing the field to close the gap on the first-day leaders. Smith and Klapper still shared the lead after 90 holes at 129. Lebo and Guthrie crafted spectacular respective fifth-round scores of 22 and 23 and pole-vaulted into a tie for third position at 130. Ward's fifth-round 25 moved him into sole possession of fifth place at 131. Caudle and English hovered another stroke back in a sixth-place tie at 132.
Lebo and Guthrie continued their blistering second-day pace in the sixth round, with each player shooting a sixth-round 23. Smith rebounded with a sixth-round 24. Smith, Lebo, and Guthrie shared the 108-hole lead at 153. Klapper and English remained within striking distance, tied for fourth place at 157. Another stroke behind the leaders in a sixth-place tie at 158 were Rybaczek, Kirby, Freeman, and Varnadore. Kirby and Freeman posted brilliant respective sixth-round scores of 23 and 22 to surge into contention.
By firing a seventh-round 25, Smith regained sole possession of the lead after 126 holes at 178. Lebo stood in second position at 179. At 180, third place was shared by Guthrie and Klapper, who climbed back up the leader board with a seventh-round 23. Rybaczek posted 24 to move into a tie for fifth place with English at 182. Still clinging to title hopes in a tie for seventh place at 183 were Kirby, Haizlip, and Batten.
Playing several groups ahead of the other seventh-round leaders, Lebo set a torrid final-round pace by acing 13 of the first 17 holes. With the other leaders just completing the front nine, Lebo gambled that his 13-under par score would be enough to ensure at least a play-off and accordingly played alay-up shot on the challenging 18th hole to guarantee a tap-in deuce putt. Lebo's eighth-round 23 gave him a second-day 72-hole total of 94 and a final144-hole total of 202. Guthrie faded several strokes out of contention late on the day's final nine. Smith's ace on Hole #14 coupled with Klapper's pro-side miss on the same hole tied both competitors, with both having a chance to ace out the final 4 holes to tie Lebo's posted 202. Smith's ace putt narrowly missed when it turned away at the last moment on the 15th hole, and Klapper's ace attempted stopped short of the hole. Smith promptly made the 16th and 17th Holes and Klapper only made the 17th Hole to get to within one of Smith. Smith at that point asked where he stood versus Lebo and found out that an Ace would not be good enough. Smith, with a little disappointment showing in his face, now knew that he could not win but knew that an ace would clinch the Runner-Up honors. Smith stepped on the tee and hit a perfect putt that went in center cup to clinch 2nd place with an 85-under par 203. Lebo captured his first North Carolina State Championship and tenth victory of the 2005 PPA season. Smith finished a stroke behind Lebo at 203, earning runner-up honors. At 205, Klapper finished alone in third place. Guthrie's 206 placed him in fourth position. Bunched in a four-way tie for fifth place at 209 were Rybaczek, English, Kirby, and Haizlip. Tied for ninth place at 210, Batten and Freeman rounded out the tournament's top ten finishers.
The final roster for the North Carolina PPA Tour's Clayton Cup team was determined at the conclusion of the North Carolina State Championship. The tour's team members will include Rybaczek, Smith, Guthrie, Landin, Carter, Perdue, Kirby, James White, English, and Caudle. The team elected Rybaczek and Smith as co-captains.
In the amateur division, a field 14 qualifiers vied for the North Carolina State Championship in a 108-hole event also contested over two days. 2004 APA National Champion Ricky D. Schults, 2005 North Carolina APA Match Play Champion Frankie Peters, and 2005 Amputters.com Champion Jeff Carr participated in a tournament-long roller coaster battle for the title. With a brilliant final-round 21, Schults finally broke away from the other two players to earn his first North Carolina State Championship title with a 108-hole total of 153. Peters and Carr finished tied for second place at 160, with Peters defeating Carr in an 18-hole play-off for the second-place hardware. 2003 APA National Champion Bonnie White finished alone in fourth position at 164. With a stellar second-day performance, local player Mark Lawson rounded out the top five finishers at 168.
As play commenced in the amateur division, Schults fired a sparkling opening-round 24 to take the first-round lead. Carr assumed second position at 26. Tied for third place at 27 were Peters and White. Caleb Kennedy and Larry Hoover shared fifth place at 29.
Carr's second-round 28 was enough to pole-vault him into the 36-hole lead at 54. Schults cooled to a second-round 31 and dropped into second place at 55. White lurked in third position at 57. A four-way fourth-place logjam at 59 included Peters, Lawson, Hoover, and local APA standout Keith Waters.Carr continued his steady play in the third round, firing 26 to take the 54-hole lead at 80 at the end of the first day of competition. Sharing second position at 82 were Schults and Peters, who posted a spectacular third-round 23. White stood alone in fourth position at 84. At 87, Hoover hovered in fifth place at the end of the first day of action.
As the second day of play opened, Peters came out hitting on all cylinders, posting a sizzling fourth-round 23 to surge into the 72-hole lead at 105. Carr dropped to second place at 106. Schults held third position at 107. With a solid fourth-round 24, White crept into contention, in fourth place at 108. At 113, Hoover remained in fifth place.
With a fifth-round 25, Schults regained a share of the lead after 90 holes, moving into a first-place tie with Peters at 132. In solo third position, Carr clung to title hopes at 135. White held fourth place at 137. Kennedy posted a fifth-round 24 to soar into fifth place at 139.
With the competition at the top of the leader board having been very close for five rounds, Schults removed any drama from the final outcome of the tournament by the midpoint of the last round. Schults' front-nine 10 left the other players fighting for runner-up honors. Schults crafted a brilliant final-round 21 to set a new single-round course record and capture his first North Carolina State Championship title by seven strokes at 153.
By virtue of a final-round 25, Carr regained a share of second position, tying Peters at 160. Peters defeated Carr in an 18-hole play-off to win the second-place plaque. White finished alone in fourth place at 164. Lawson's sixth-round 26 allowed him to leapfrog into fifth place at 168. Posting respective totals of 169 and 173, Kennedy and Hoover garnered the final amateur expense reimbursement spots awarded in the tournament.
The final roster for the North Carolina Tour's APA Hancock Cup team was determined at the conclusion of the North Carolina State Championship. The North Carolina Hancock Cup squad will include Hoover, Chuck Nance, Peters, Kennedy, Lawson, and White. The team elected Hoover and Nance as co-captains.Following the conclusion of play on the first day of competition, the North Carolina PPA Tour held an awards banquet for the 2005 season. Plaques were presented to professional and amateur winners of each tournament on the tour's 2005 schedule. North Carolina PPA Tour 2005 Player of the Year Awards were presented to Brad Lebo in the professional division and Ricky D. Schults in the amateur division. Determined by a vote of the North Carolina PPA Tour Committee, 2005 Sportsmanship Awards were presented to two very deserving Asheboro stalwarts - professional Bear Landin and amateur Mark Lawson.The North Carolina PPA Tour would like to extend thanks to course manager Chris Grainey, host PPA professional Randy Carter, and their staff for welcoming the tour to the beautiful High Point, NC Putt-Putt facility and hosting a very successful championship weekend. The North Carolina State Championship concluded the 2005 North Carolina PPA Tour schedule. The North Carolina PPA Tour's ten-member professional Clayton Cup and six-member amateur Hancock Cup teams will represent the tour in the Clayton Cup and Hancock Cup team tournaments to be contested on course # 1 in High Point, NC on the weekend of October 15-16.