Tony Varnadore Wins 2017 USPMGA Master’s
16 Oct 2017 at 19:31 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 4309 | News search
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – On October 12 -14, the 21st edition USPMGA Minigolf Master’s was played and featured the best miniature golfers in the United States and many international stars including the World Adventure Golf Masters overall winner Gunner Bengstrom. The story of the tournament, however, was Tony Varnadore who started the tournament by setting a course, Master’s and Minigolf Open Standard (MOS) record in the first round, setting the stage for his first major USPMGA tournament win. » Final Results
The Master’s consists of twelve rounds of miniature golf played over three days on and two courses, Hawaiian Rumble and Aloha, which are separated by about four miles. Five rounds are played on both Thursday and Friday with the field split between the two courses and swapping courses between the two days. The Rumble is the harder of the two courses with top scores generally being in the low 30s with some high 20s and Aloha is the easier with the top scores being in the 20s the whole day. In addition, the Rumble this year changed from brick edging to the less predictable “rock” edging which meant that players who had mastered the course in the past had to work on some new shots for this year’s edition. With that in mind players struggle to get a feel of where they stand until the end of the 10th round when everyone has played both courses.
The Thursday rounds were played in some unseasonable heat and while the humidity was high and the temperatures were hot, so was the putting, especially for Varnadore. The field was expecting some good scores in the mid-20s but his 22 to open the tournament astonished everyone, including the most seasoned players. The score was shot on the Aloha course and he aced 14 of 18, including the 18th hole which is one of the harder holes on the course. Varnadore would be tied for the lead after the morning rounds but slip to third after the first day, one stroke off the lead. Varnadore, a relatively soft spoken man, would later have this to say about this round of 22, “I started off on a good hole, played well and hit everything straight.”
The sun stayed behind the clouds for most of Friday but the scores continued to be low for the top players. With the combined course scores coming in, Varnadore saw himself with a 5 shot lead over past Master’s champion Ricard Lockner and a 7 shot lead over Team USA members Rick Baird and Rick Culverhouse. After 10 rounds, the top 20 were averaging below 32 across the two courses and there was a logjam for the paying spots with only 10 strokes separating second place from eighteenth place. The closeness could also been seen all the way down through the leaderboard as many folks had a chance to get into the final paying places.
The excitement hit a crescendo on Saturday during round 11. Varnadore would hit his only over par round of the tournament, a 37, and suddenly the pack was on him. Lockner made up the 5 stroke difference hitting a 32 and suddenly defending champion Randy Reeves was in the mix with a 31, closing 6 of the 9 stroke gap after round 10. Similar movement was seen around the top 10 as some players faltered while others jumped in their chances to make up stroke and move in the money.
Varnadore, Lockner and Reeves would play the final round in a threesome that started on hole 3 and concluded on hole 2. In this round, Varnadore would steady himself and prove a champion as he shot an outstanding 30. This would leave him a total of 61 under par for the tournament (total of 371) and seal the win by 3 strokes over Locker and 5 over Reeves. The steadiness of Varnadore’s play during the tournament could be best summed up by his thoughts during the closing dinner where he attributed his win in part to “having patience on those courses and hope for the best.”
The 2017 USPMGA Continental Championship was held in conjunction with the Master’s. Tony Varnadore placed first, Randy Reeves second and Greg Ward took third place by one stroke over Geoff Mosk and Greg Newport.
The closing dinner also saw the introduction of four members into the USPMGA Hall of Fame: Astra Miglane-Stanwyck, Danny McCaslin, Olivia Prokopova and Bob Detwiler. The next major USPMGA tournament will be the U.S. Open to be held May 18-19 at Champions Golf Learning Center in Hendersonville, NC.
» Continental Championships Final Results