Graybeal Wins 2nd USPMGA Major Title with Masters Victory
17 Oct 2019 at 13:30 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 2018 | News search
Joey Graybeal receives the Masters trophy (Photo by The Putting Penguin)
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – The 23rd USPMGA Master’s tournament was played on October 10-12, 2019 at three courses in North Myrtle Beach. Over 12 rounds during those 3 days, competitors had to master 3 styles of courses with 3 rounds on the difficult Pineapple course at Hawaiian Village, 4 rounds at the ace-heavy Island course at Aloha Mini Golf and 5 rounds at the home of the Master’s, Hawaiian Rumble. The winner would have not only have to be able to conquer each style of course but would need to be consistent the whole week to lead the field. » Final Results
With the field of 69 competitors from 4 countries split up into 3 groups for the initial 9 round rotation between the 3 courses, it was hard to size up who was going to end up on the top until all putters moved to Aloha for one round on Friday afternoon. Stories went around the competitors of good rounds, bad rounds, domination of holes and a few of where the courses bit back at the putters. With the South Carolina sun out in its full glory, the heat was on once the dust settled and Joey Graybeal took a 2 shot lead into round 10 after 3 sub-30 rounds earlier in the week on Aloha, one of only two players to accomplish that feat. The other was 2011 Master’s champion Jay Klapper who was sitting just 6 strokes behind Graybeal that afternoon in 4th place.
Despite Graybeal throwing in another sub-30 round the 4th time around Aloha, things tightened up at the top of the scoreboard as perennial contender Gary Hester, a member of Team USA, shot a 26 to move into a tie with Graybeal after 10 rounds. Danny McCaslin, a four time Master's champion, moved to within 2 strokes of the lead after a scorching round of 25 on the Aloha course. This set up a dramatic ending as the competitors moved to the final two rounds, to be played mid-morning Saturday at the Hawaiian Rumble course.
Round 11 was tight as all of the competitors at the top of the leaderboard struggled to shoot low and Graybeal and Hester would both shoot 34s to remain tied going into the final round. McCaslin would slip one stroke but remain in 3rd place to round out the final trio of the afternoon in Round 12. With the final round starting on hole 5, to ensure the final few holes could be seen by the gathering gallery as hole 18 at the Rumble is isolated on a hill, it would be an interesting round that would see many of the “ace-holes” back-ended because of the change of order. The lead would change several times during the course of the “front 9” and as Graybeal and Hester came back to hole 1 they were still tied with a potential playoff looming. Also looming was a late charge by Klapper who was in the penultimate group. He would eventually shoot a 30 during Round 12, which was enough to eventually move himself into 3rd place to clip McCaslin by 1 stroke and to put pressure on the leader’s final few holes.
The separation would finally come on hole 2, the 16th hole for the competitors in the round. As one pro said, hole 2 requires an “uncomfortable speed” shot as you navigate around a big rock in the middle of a right-hand dogleg. The shot must be hard enough to clear the rock and get up the slight hill but not so hard that it goes through the line for the ace. Unfortunately, Hester would leave his tee shot a bit lagging and end up with a difficult deuce shot back at the rock, which while it had a clear path to the hole had a difficult series of breaks to navigate. Hester would end up taking a 3 on the hole, giving Graybeal a one shot lead with 2 holes to play.
Graybeal would deuce out those final two holes, putting pressure on both Hester and McCaslin to make aces to catch him. Fortunately for him neither would and Graybeal, from Bristol, Tennessee, would hang on to be the 2019 Master’s Champion, adding another major to his 2016 U.S. Open win at Putt U. During his speech both directly after winning and later at the “Night of the Master's” celebration, Graybeal would thank Jesus and many other people who helped him along the way toward victory.
Also this year, the USPMGA inducted its 12th member into the Hall of Fame, Dr. Brad Lebo. Dr. Lebo is the 2008 Master’s champion and also holds 3 U.S. Open championship titles. He’s been often featured in articles about professional putting and is widely considered one of the best miniature golfers, including Putt Putt, of all time.
The next major USPMGA event will be the 2020 U.S. Open to be held May 15-16, 2020 at Bluegrass Minigolf in Oceanport, NJ. This is the third time the U.S. Open will be held at that course with previous winners being Matt McCaslin (2014) and Olivia Prokopova (2017). The 2020 Master’s will be held October 8-10, 2020 with the format to be determined.
Top 5 Scores
Joey Graybeal – 379
Gary Hester – 380
Jay Klapper – 381
Danny McCaslin – 382
Olivia Prokopova - 386
Full final results including division winners can be found at the link below.