Matt McCaslin Fires Bookend 21's To Capture PPA Eastern Open Title

 


Matt McCaslin

11-12 August 2012 - Richmond, VA - The PPA National Tour ventured to the sprawling and immaculately-maintained Richmond, VA Putt-Putt Fun Center to contest the fourth event on the 2012 PPA National Tour schedule, the two-day, 108-hole PPA Eastern Open, hosted by the Virginia PPA Tour.  Host PPA professional, PPA Hall of Fame member, and course manager Gary Hinshaw and his staff worked diligently in the months preceding the event to prepare course # 2 for the tournament.  With the highly-favorable course conditions, pundits of the sport anticipated prior to tee-off that the all-time six-round PPA scoring mark of 136 could be challenged.  However, Mother Nature stepped in to help protect that record.  Heavy overnight showers on the nights preceding each day of competition gave way to heat and beating sunshine on the tournament days.  As a result, players continually were forced to hypothesize as to proper adjustments for tee positions, aiming points, and speeds for the course's twelve or more bank or multiple-bank shots.  Nevertheless, a tightly-fought, low-scoring battle ensued near the top of the leaderboard. 
 
Prior to this season, Matt McCaslin, despite having won three-career USPMGA U.S. Open titles, had spent much of his playing career in the Brobdingnagian shadow cast by his highly-accomplished older siblings, David and Danny.  But the 40-year-old bartender from Holly Springs, NC entered 2012 rejuvenated and with a renewed dedication to tournament competition.  With some critical off-season equipment and swing tweaks and an enviable practice ethic, McCaslin immediately saw positive results, as he won two of the three 54-hole opening-weekend PPA Southern Tour events in Augusta, GA in a star-studded field to notch his first two PPA professional wins.  McCaslin's third-career victory would be even more monumental, as he fired rounds of 21, 24, 22, 27, 25, and 21 for a 108-hole total of 140 to capture the PPA Eastern Open by two strokes over fifth-round leader Rick Baird.  The triumph was highlighted by McCaslin's dramatic acing of the first fifteen holes of the final round.  "It was the kind of course on which a player could get hot," noted McCaslin following the tournament.  "With losing my lead going into the last round, I was focused on making a move and was able to run in the first fifteen (holes)."
Action began with McCaslin soaring to the top of the opening-round leaderboard with what would inevitably become one of four tournament-low rounds of 21 fired in the event.  2007 PPA National Champion Baird stood alone in second place at 22.  A three-way, third-place tie at 23 included 2000 Great Lakes Tour Champion Rick Alessi, reigning PPA Senior National Champion Ken Hastings, and 2012 PPA National Champion Greg Newport.
 
With a second-round 22, Alessi maneuvered into a tie for the 36-hole lead at 45 with McCaslin, who shot 24.  Two-time PPA National Doubles Champion Nate Nichols carded 22 to jump into a third-place tie with Newport at 46.  Baird, 2011 PPA Western Open Champion Frank Warren, Hastings, and 2010 Great Lakes Tour Champion James Weber held joint fifth position at 47.
 
McCaslin stormed back into solo possession of the lead with a third-round 22 to establish the overnight lead at a spectacular 54-hole total of 67.  Richmond local stalwart Manfred Stewart and 2006 PPA National Champion Brad Lebo each also shot 22 in the third round to enter the final day tied for second place with Baird at 71.  A gaggle of players tied for fifth position at 72 included PPA Hall of Fame member Bill Kirby, Alessi, Newport, and 1997 PPA National Champion Randy Reeves, who matched McCaslin for low-round honors for the event with his third-round 21.  Another six contestants hovered at 73.
 
Following heavy early morning rainfall, players were greeted on the final day of competition by overcast skies and saturated carpets.  As the 9:00 a.m. Sunday tee-off time approached, however, beating mid-summer sunshine scorched the course, leading to tricky transitional carpet conditions throughout the closing three rounds.  McCaslin commenced the day with a lackluster fourth-round 27 but clung to the lead with a 72-hole score of 94.  Baird and Lebo each posted 24 to creep within a stroke of McCaslin's lead, tied for second place at 95.  By virtue of a fourth-round 23, PPA Hall of Fame legend Daryl Freeman jumped into a tie for fourth position at 96 with Kirby and Newport.
Baird forged a stellar fifth-round 22 to overtake McCaslin at the top of the 90-hole leaderboard with a five-round total of 117.  Continuing his torrid second-day pace, Freeman carded 22 to move into second place at 118.  With a fifth-round 25, McCaslin precipitated into a third-place tie at 119 with Lebo, who posted his second-consecutive 24.  Nichols crafted a penultimate-round 22 to join 2008 PPA National Champion Kevin Lacey, reigning PPA Southern Open Champion Danny McCaslin, Warren, and Kirby in a tie for fifth position at 121.
 
Baking sunshine and increasing afternoon winds in the final round provided a perplexing challenge to some in the field.  But despite the tricky transitional conditions, action became heated in the final pairing.  McCaslin recorded a perfect "9" on the outward nine to regain a share of the lead with Baird, who fired 11 on the front nine.  McCaslin continued the final-round fireworks during his march to the clubhouse, surging back into sole possession of the lead by acing the first six holes of the inward nine.  McCaslin's ace streak was stopped at fifteen, however, as his birdie effort narrowly missed on the 16th hole.  With an untimely bogey on the 17th hole, McCaslin's advantage over Baird was cut to a single stroke.  But when Baird's tee shot failed to fall in the cup on the oft-fickle 18th hole, victory was all but assured for McCaslin.  McCaslin put an exclamation point on his first-career PPA National Tour title with a final-hole ace to finish off a brilliant closing-round 21, post a 108-hole total of 140, and collect the $750.00 winner's check.  Baird settled for runner-up honors at 142.
 
Nichols clawed his way into third place at 144 with an inspired sixth-round 22.  Stewart also fired 22 in the closing round to finish fourth at 145.  Deadlocked in fifth position at 146 were Freeman, Lacey, Danny McCaslin, and Warren.  Lebo struggled to a bogey-free final-round 28 to drop into a ninth-place tie at 147 with PPA Hall of Fame member Greg Ward, who charged the clubhouse with a closing-round 22.  Kevin Rutledge split low-round honors for the event with McCaslin and Reeves with his last-round 21.  The final of the 27 money spots awarded in the professional division fell at a 108-hole score of 154.   Matt McCaslin, Stewart, Lacey, Kirby, Johnson, and Alessi accepted the six spots offered to the top Six finishers in the 2012 PPA Eastern Open who did not already earn such a spot in the 2012 PPA Western, Southern, or Northern Opens for a free entry fee into the professional division of the 2012 Tournament Players Championship to be held during the PPA National Championship week.  

 

 


Donnie Carpenter

In the amateur division, highly-decorated APA veteran Donnie Carpenter, who returned to amateur division competition just several months earlier after a lengthy hiatus from the sport, dominated the amateur field en route to an emphatic wire-to-wire three-stroke victory.  The drywall contractor from Hickory, NC fired rounds of 22, 24, 22, 22, 26, and 26 for an impressive 108-hole total of 142.  Carpenter adds the win to his collection of National Tour major APA titles from the 1990's, during which time Carpenter established himself as one of the titans of the amateur ranks.  2010 APA National Player of the Year Randal Smith used a sizzling fifth-round 21, the low round of the event in the amateur division, as a springboard to a second-place finish at 145.  A four-way tie for third at 147 included defending APA champion Dr. Chris Chafin, 2008 APA National Doubles Champion Mike Matthews, former Richmond, VA local standout Scott Anderson, and 2010 APA National Champion Joey Graybeal.  The last of the sixteen amateur division expense reimbursement spots distributed in the event came at a six-round total of 162.    

The PPA National Tour membership extends its thanks to Gary Hinshaw, his wife Patsy, and their staff for graciously welcoming the tour to their facility for a very successful tournament weekend.  The tour also greatly appreciates the extensive efforts made by Hinshaw and his staff to prepare the course and facility for the PPA Eastern Open.  The PPA National Tour will return to action at the Columbus, IN Putt-Putt Fun Center for the events of the 2012 PPA National Championship week from September 11-15. 

 

 

                                                          Article submitted by Brad Lebo

 

 

 

Professional Division of The 2012 PPA Eastern Open
(Richmond, VA - Course # 2 - 11-12 August)

 

Place Player Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Points Earned Money Earned
1 Matt McCaslin 21 24 22 27 25 21 140 100.00 750.00
2 Rick Baird 22 25 24 24 22 25 142 98.00 650.00
3 Nate Nichols 24 22 27 26 22 23 144 96.00 560.00
4 Manfred Stewart 26 23 22 27 25 22 145 94.00 500.00
5 Daryl Freeman 24 26 23 23 22 28 146 89.00 370.00
  Kevin Lacey 27 24 22 24 24 25 146 89.00 370.00
  Danny McCaslin 26 24 23 24 24 25 146 89.00 370.00
  Frank Warren 25 22 26 24 24 25 146 89.00 370.00
9 Brad Lebo 26 23 22 24 24 28 147 83.00 282.50
  Greg Ward 24 24 28 23 26 22 147 83.00 282.50
11 Bill Kirby 24 25 23 24 25 27 148 79.00 252.50
  Rick Alessi 23 22 27 26 24 26 148 79.00 252.50
13 Tony Varnadore 26 25 23 23 27 25 149 75.00 230.00
  Kevin Rutledge 24 29 22 26 27 21 149 75.00 230.00
15 Bill Baus 24 26 27 24 23 26 150 71.00 212.50
  Robert Johnson 27 22 28 27 24 22 150 71.00 212.50
17 Randy Reeves 26 25 21 26 26 27 151 66.00 200.00
  Ken Hastings 23 24 26 29 23 26 151 66.00 200.00
  Rick Rybaczek 27 24 23 26 27 24 151 66.00 200.00
20 Greg Newport 23 23 26 24 27 30 153 58.00 180.00
  Jeff Spainhour 29 23 23 28 25 25 153 58.00 180.00
  John Bambling 24 25 28 23 27 26 153 58.00 180.00
  Jay Klapper 24 26 28 25 26 24 153 58.00 180.00
  Rick Shelton 24 25 30 24 26 24 153 58.00 180.00
25 Jeff Carr 24 26 25 27 28 24 154 50.33 108.33
  James Weber 24 23 28 28 28 23 154 50.33 108.33
  Ed Grajewski 24 26 28 25 25 26 154 50.33 108.33
28 Ken Schooler 28 28 22 28 24 25 155 48.00  
29 Andy Coradini 25 25 26 25 28 27 156 45.50  
  Paul Johns 26 26 26 28 24 26 156 45.50  
  Ricky Schults 27 24 27 24 29 25 156 45.50  
  James White 24 26 31 23 28 24 156 45.50  
33 Gary Hinshaw 26 25 29 26 29 25 160 43.00  
34 Michael Hitt 24 30 27 28 26 27 162 42.00  
35 Thomas Rawles 26 27 28 29 25 29 164 40.50  
  Terry Phillips 27 29 25 30 26 27 164 40.50  
37 Jeff McDonald 29 28 27 27 31 23 165 39.00  
38 Robert Grasso 33 26 32 26 28 33 178 38.00  
39 Jon Drexler 31 30 34 29 30 30 184 37.00  

 

 

 

Amateur Division of The 2012 PPA Eastern Open
(Richmond, VA - Course # 2 - 11-12 August)

Place Player Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Points Earned Money Earned
1 Donnie Carpenter 22 24 22 22 26 26 142 100.00 40.00
2 Randal Smith 23 25 24 27 21 25 145 98.00 20.00
3 Chris Chafin 24 25 22 26 26 24 147 93.00 20.00
  Mike Matthews 24 23 25 24 28 23 147 93.00 20.00
  Scott Anderson 25 25 25 23 25 24 147 93.00 20.00
  Joey Graybeal 26 24 26 22 25 24 147 93.00 20.00
7 Danny Tatum 24 28 27 26 25 23 153 88.00 20.00
8 Billy Caudle 24 24 25 29 27 25 154 85.00 20.00
  John Petrie 25 27 28 23 27 24 154 85.00 20.00
10 Zach Martin 25 26 26 25 26 28 156 82.00 20.00
11 Travis Robinson 25 26 26 28 25 27 157 79.00 20.00
  Bonnie White 25 26 29 26 25 26 157 79.00 20.00
13 Timmy Pope 23 29 26 29 27 24 158 76.00 20.00
14 Rodney Ashley 23 26 27 29 27 29 161 74.00 20.00
15 Jerry Sanner 28 27 23 29 28 27 162 71.00 15.00
  Jeff Studer 26 22 32 29 27 26 162 71.00 15.00
17 Bill Petrie 26 25 28 28 33 25 165 66.00  
  Stan Seethoff 27 28 26 28 28 28 165 66.00  
  Terry Sanner 26 28 29 29 29 24 165 66.00  
20 Mickey DeLucca 28 25 28 29 27 29 166 62.00  
21 Adam Sahmel 27 29 27 28 31 26 168 60.00  
22 Chris Matthews 27 29 31 30 28 27 172 58.00  
23 Keith Hartman 26 28 29 32 29 30 174 56.00  
24 Marty Handschuh 27 29 32 27 36 30 181 54.00  
25 Carol Alessi 32 26 31 34 28 33 184 52.00  

 

 

Scores provided by Rick Rybaczek