no avatar

Kirby aces final hole, claims PPA National Invitational crown

Tanner Cook • Jun 7, 2020 at 6:46 PM

KINGSPORT — As the saying goes, it’s best to finish strong. 

Fayetteville, North Carolina’s Bill Kirby aced the final hole in the final round of the Professional Putters Association National Invitational at the Kingsport Putt-Putt Center on Sunday for a 68-under-par 220 total and the victory. 

“This was the best I’ve played since 2014 when I won the Players Championship down in Louisiana,” Kirby said. “I’m almost 71 years old and I’ve played a long time. For me to win something like this is just icing on the cake. I really didn’t know what the scores were going into that last hole and I kept my head down. 

“I didn’t realize until afterwards that was for the win.”

View the Day 2 photo gallery here

Kirby and Gary English — who finished second, three strokes behind — put on a putting exhibition. They had been tied for the lead since the end of the second round on Saturday. 

“Gary and I have known and played with each other for 51 years,” Kirby said. “He’s a great ambassador for the game and I was pulling for as hard for him to win it as anyone.

“I got to Kingsport on Wednesday and I didn’t play very well in my practice rounds, but then I started picking it up on Friday. Anytime that you’re in a tournament, there’s always nerves. These are not only the best players in the nation, but the best in the whole world. 

“And then you’re playing against the local guys like Sid Davis, Joey Graybeal, Kevin Rutledge and Travis Robinson,” Kirby added. “They’re all tremendous players and that just makes it that much tougher.”

Angelo Korogianos was just one shot behind with six holes to play before a double bogey on hole No. 13, which left Kirby in an almost uncatchable position.

“If he would’ve taken a 2, that would’ve helped him out,” said Kirby, who collected a $1,000 cash prize. “I saw him leave it short and I thought I needed to go for it. That is a very tense putt to have to hit. It was probably the toughest hole all week.”

The tournament, the initial kickoff to the national PPA tour, was under a cloud of uncertainty for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials were concerned about different guidelines and reopening plans for individual states. 

“This whole year has been pretty unique because of COVID-19,” tournament director Joe Aboid said. “There’s 50 different rules out there and when we finally had some place to go in Tennessee, it was really a relief and I’m glad we came here. It’s always a very popular place.”

The entire tournament took place on course No. 2 at Kingsport Putt-Putt, which regular players say is the much tougher course because of all the different breaks the carpet presents and how the course doesn’t offer much of a break. 

“That course is one of the toughest in America and I’ve played them all,” Kirby said. “It’s probably three or four strokes difference from the front course. There’s so much trouble on (course No. 2).”

“We played here last year for the national championship and used both courses,” Aboid said. “We decided that since we used the front course three years ago that we’d try the back course this year. Next time when we come back, who knows.”

Kirby thanked Kingsport Putt-Putt co-owners Dan and Marcia Estes during the trophy ceremony. Kirby said afterward that the Model City is one of the best places to play the game in the country. 

“Kingsport is such a great town and that is one of the best courses in America,” Kirby said. “It’s so tough and so competitive. It really makes you think. 

“Danny and Marcia are outstanding Putt-Putt franchise owners. They have been for a long time.”

Davis, who was the top local on Saturday, in fourth place, finished sixth at 61-under 227. 

Professional Putters Association National Invitational

At Kingsport Putt-Putt Center

Sunday, June 7

After 8 of 8 rounds; par 144

65 players

Bill Kirby 106-114—220

Gary English 106-117—223

Angelo Korogianos 108-116—224

Jeff Garrison 114-111—225

Sid Davis 109-118—227

Chris Chafin 113-115—228

Wade Sahmel 117-111—228

Travis Robinson 114-115—229

Rusty Taylor 114-116—230

Danny Tatum 117-114—231

Jerry Pinotti 112-120—232

Randy Reeves 113-120—233

Harold Mikell 118-115—233

John Ventura 117-117—234

Alan Quinnelly 113-122—235

Robert Johnson 116-119—235

Olivia Prokopova 116-119—235

Jimmy Mott 118-117—235

Brad Lebo 118-117—235

Brian Johnson 119-116—235

Joe Lea 119-116—235

Ben Blake 122-113—235

Kent Cranford 117-119—236

Frank Warren 113-124—237

Joey Graybeal 120-117—237

Jeffrey Smith 122-115—237

Frank Bisesl 115-123—238

Jeff Studer 116-122—238

Geoff Mosk 118-120—238

Nate Nichols 125-113—238

Zach Martin 114-125—239

Mike Flavin 117-122—239

Donnie Carpenter 118-121—239

Ed Haggerty 118-121—239

Jay Klapper 117-123—240

Rainey Statum 121-119—240

Greg Ward 117-125—242

Kevin Rutledge 119-123—242

Patrick Prillhart 119-123—242

Manfred Stewart 122-120—242

Lee Messinger 126-117—243

Jeff McDonald 120-124—244

Tim Jones 127-117—244

Darrell Britt 121-124—244

Thomas Rawles 127-118—245

Ricky Schults 119-127—246

James Chastain 121-125—246

Charlie Greenwalt 125-121—246

Steve Lyon 122-125—247

John Kropinak 122-127—249

Harry Sykes 126-123—249

Anthony Amick 127-122—249

John Wilder 117-133—250

Paul Johns 124-126—250

Tim Schrader 126-125—251

Ken McDonald 127-124—251

Rick Culverhouse 125-128—253

Tony Varnadore 128-125—253

Monte Snyder 130-124—254

Matthew Browder 125-133—258

Lewis Burton 128-130—258

John McCabe 133-130—263

Dom Perry 130-140—270

Joe Smith 136-139—275

The site administrator has disabled comments for this story.