Ronnie Pritchett wins 2011 USPT Championship

Ronnie Pritchett won the inaugural USPT Championship on the first hole of a sudden death playoff against Steve Vaughn to capture the $10,000 winner’s check, USPT Championship trophy and title of America’s Best Putter.

Pritchett and Vaughn shot 12 under par scores of 114 on Sunday over 63 holes.

Full results on this blog tomorrow. Congratulations to all who made it to the final round and thanks to all who participated and supported the event.

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Round 2 (Sunday) Starting Times

Before listing the 72 golfers who have qualified to play on Sunday morning in Round 2 and the starting times, here is how we’re handling alternates for Round 2. We’ve taken the 1st alternate from each of the six Round 1 days and randomly selected the names to create a list of alternates from 1 to 6 (because we can’t compare scores from day to day). If you’re on the alternate list, you’re welcome to show up tomorrow morning to see if you can get in if there are no shows. You will be selected based on your order from 1 to 6 based on who is there in person at the time the group starts that has an opening.

Also, we are allowing practice putting in Round 2 for 15 minutes prior to your start time. If you do not register five minutes prior to your start time, you receive a two-stroke penalty. If you are not at your hole when play in your group is ready to start, you are disqualified.

8:00 a.m. start times

Trevor Young

Brian Saltus

Steve Vaughn

Brian Scheufler

Michael McKenna

Paul Imondi

Scott Grugel

Erik Johnston

Tristan Schmuch

Michael Reifess

Scot Schmidt

Karl Johnson

Steve Lyons

Marcos Jimenez

Dean Tonnesian

Mike Zelke

Todd Jones

Blake Jirges

9:15 a.m. start times

Rick Dale

John Gray

Brian Sullivan

Victor Rodriguez

Tom Sugameli

H. Roberts

Rob Mills

Gary McNeely

Richard Jaffe

Eric Bishop

Alex Wonder

Dale Pecjaik

Alec Madison

Tom Osseck

Colby Hartje

Joe Mangiapane

Bill Shields

Dave Honadle

10:30 a.m. start times

Mike McDonnell

Mark Reiner

Loretta Alderete

Keri Arnold

Howard Sonkin

Juan Carreno

Matt McDevitt

Matt Picanso

Troy Trofy

Gary Glaser

Ned Abell

Andrew Augustyniak

Matt Curci

John Michael O’Mara

James Hynd

Jeff Welch

Jaime Cevallos

Rocky Hill

11:45 a.m. start times

Drew O’Connor

Paul Latchford

Ken Norton

Jeff Gray

Joel Nash

Scott Harris

Matt Murray

Buford Wiley

Mark Dudzik

Gary Ford

Marc Collins

Patrick Coughlin

Jeff Reeves

Drew Oslance

Ron Pritchett

Michael Stanley

Randall Mudge

Ann Marie Costello

Alternates (in order of random selection):

1. Nathan McNaughton

2. Scott Hurst

3. Mark Madison

4. Krista Mallory

5. Brian Kirkpatrick

6. Shane Stewart

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Who’s going to win the 1st championship?

With most golf tournaments, it’s pretty easy to get the list of possible winners down to 10 or 20 players. Not so for the U.S. Putting Tour’s inaugural USPT Championship coming up next week at The Crossings in Carlsbad.

To say it’s a wide open field is an understatement. Literally anyone who is entered has a shot at winning. That’s the beauty of putting. On any given day, a golfer can putt lights-out or terrible. In this case, on any given Sunday (Oct. 2, to be exact), we’ll see who is wielding the hot putter.

There’ll be putts as short as 5 feet that every golfer will feel they should (er, have to) make. Pressure? You bet. Then there will be the sidehill, uphill and downhill putts that can turn into 3-putts in a flash.

The person who wins this putting championship will be the one who can avoid the 3-putts and make 25-40% of the putts inside 15 feet. The only catch is – we don’t know who that person will be. But we can’t wait to find out.

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An inspiration to us all

Jeremy Poincenot, the 2010 IBGA World Blind Golf Champion, has entered the 2011 U.S. Putting Tour Championship.

Jeremy is 21. He lost his central vision in late 2008 within a matter of weeks, the result of a very rare genetic disorder called LHON (Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy). He can no longer read without extreme magnification, drive or distinguish faces. But with the support of friends and family, he continues to do many of the things that he always did, including play golf.

We’re thrilled to have Jeremy compete in the U.S. Putting Tour Championship. Not only is he an inspiration to everyone dealing with a disability, he’s a darn good golfer.

Jeremy always played golf and has learned how to adapt his game with his vision loss. In 2009, he placed third in the U.S. Blind Golf Championships and in August 2010 he won the IBGA World Blind Golf Championship in England. Jeremy also competed in the Pro-am of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January this year.

His father, Lio, who is his coach, caddy and on-course guide, will be permitted to be with Jeremy on the green throughout the putting tournament. Jeremy formerly worked in the cart barn at The Crossings, which is the host site for the putting championship.

You can learn more about Jeremy’s story at his website.

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Say hello to Ashdon Golf

The new presenting sponsor of the 2011 U.S. Putting Tour Championship is Ashdon Golf. You may not know the company, but they make some fine golf equipment, starting with their putters.

Ashdon Golf is a San Diego golf company. They’ve been around for a while and some of the unique engineering ideas that have gone into their clubs have been around for quite some time. In fact, their CEO, Ron Pritchett, first started playing around with the concept for his Bermuda Triangle T-180 putter back in 1993.

The idea behind the Bermuda Triangle T-180 is that if a putter can connect the hell and toe of the blade to the putter shaft, then it will stabilize the face of the putter blade on the back stroke and the down stroke, thereby improving the consistency of the line on one’s putts. Brilliant!

Ashdon Golf also makes the Round-A-Bout line of putters, which have innovative engineering and design features that help all caliber of golfers. I’m about to start using a Round-A-Bout long putter. Based on what I’ve done on the practice green with it, I’m looking forward to some better scoring in the days ahead.

Golfers who compete as amateurs in our putting championship have a chance to win prize certificates good at Ashdon Golf’s online store. Ashdon makes a complete line of golf clubs including drivers, woods, irons, wedges, and hybrids, in addition to the putters. You also can buy Ashdon golf balls and bags at the online golf store.

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It’s not that the putting was bad. It was just more of the same old story,  the fear and occasional presence of the yips.

Why I brought my regular putter to the Senior Club Championship this weekend, I’ll never know. But there I was, coming down the stretch in the second and final round, battling to make up ground on the leader while I’m battling my own nerves.

But I caught him on 17 when I somehow rolled in a 7-foot sidewinder for a birdie. In fact, it was a three-way tie for the lead as our final foursome teed off on 18. By the time we reached the green, it was down to just two of us. I was away with a 35 footer uphill left-to-right putt. And then the unthinkable, which I actually did think about, happened. I yipped my approach putt. Jacked it four feet past the hole to the right. The other guy lagged up to tap-in range, leaving me to make this downhill right-to-left putt to tie and send it to sudden death.

With a crowd surrounding the back of the green, I made it. I have no idea how. So on we went to sudden death. I lipped-out an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole – tie. I faced a lightning-fast downhill 15-footer on the next hole. Thank God I didn’t stab at that one or it would have been off the green. As it was, I left myself a couple of feet back up the hill, which was more than enough pressure.

I got to the next tee, the 1st hole again, a par 5 dogleg right, with one thought in mind – get it on the green in two so I can 2-putt for a birdie. Probably hit the best drive of my life over the corner. The ball flew over the trees and the bunkers ending up a mere 182 yards from the pin. Still jacked, I launched an 8-iron pin high on the right fringe. Having seen my drive, my opponent felt compelled to make something happen with his second shot and did, sort of; he hit a tree. Still, he managed to hit his third shot just through the green. After a mediocre chip, he left me feeling better about my putting nerves and I comfortably lagged it up there to within a couple of feet. He missed his putt for a bogey. Game, set, match.

And with the Senior Club Championship in hand, I will now retire my trusty short putter to my personal hall of sh/fame. Yes, it’s back to the long putter once again. I love competing in golf tournaments, but when I’m worrying so much about my putting that I can hardly think straight, all the joy of competition fades away.

The morale of this story? Anyone can win any tournament with a little luck and some mind over matter. If you want to give the U.S. Putting Tour’s national putting championship a try this September, grab your favorite putter and go for it. Enjoy the competition and enjoy the experience of being in the inaugural USPT Championship.

You can enter today at www.usputtingtour.com.

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Introducing Club Putting Championships

For the 2012 USPT season, our qualifying events for the USPT Championship will take the form of Club Putting Championships. Frankly, it’s an idea that’s long overdue. Here’s how it will work.

Any golf course in America (public, private, semi-private, resort) can hold a U.S. Putting Tour-sanctioned Club Putting Championship. It can be open to anyone 18 and over, including both men and women. The winner of each Club Putting Championship becomes eligible to enter the 2012 USPT Championship.

At the same time, the head PGA club professional at each course that holds a Club Putting Championship (CPC) also becomes eligible to enter the 2012 USPT Championship. Courses that plan to hold a CPC contact the USPT and we will provide the course with material to help promote the event. People wanting to enter a CPC will do so through the USPT website.

We think it’ll be a lot of fun for all golfers. It’s a chance to win a new club tournament and to move on for a shot at the title of America’s Best Putter. Professionals will get to compete for a sizable cash purse at the USPT Championship and the winner moves on to compete in a World Putting Tour Championships event with an even bigger cash prize.

Of course, there’s still time to enter our 2011 putting championship, whether you want to compete as an amateur or as a professional. In fact, our putting tournament at The Crossings in late September is shaping up to be a big inaugural season-ending event. You’re not going to want to miss it.

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