Playing with the Tiger Woods of Putt-Putt on Sunday, Cliff Matthews said he felt relaxed.
Matthews posted a record 140-under-par 292 total in 12 rounds to win the $20,000 Professional Putters of America National Championship at Putt-Putt Golf & Games on Sunday. He defeated defending champion Greg Ward by four shots.
Matthews shattered Ward's 12-round record of 120-under-par set in the 2001 National Championship. Kevin Lacey and Dan Anders tied for third at 131-under.
"Usually, I'm nervous heading into the final rounds," Matthews said. "But the pressure was off, because Greg was there. The pressure was on him because he's won everything."
Entering Sunday's final four rounds, Ward stood atop the 92-player field. The Loganville, Ga., resident, who had already had a great week, led Matthews by two shots.
Ward, winner of more than 140 PPA events, including nine major titles, had a remarkable week. On Tuesday, he won the $15,000 PPA World Match Play Championship. Two days later, Ward was inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame.
"To actually beat (Ward) is an accomplishment in itself," the 28-year-old Matthews said. "He's the Tiger Woods out here. You want to see anybody else on the leaderboard except him."
Ward was bidding to become the first player in the sport's 43-year history to defend the national championship. But Ward's effort was derailed by Matthews, who opened play Sunday with a 13-under-par 23. Matthews, who won the first-place check of $2,500, followed with a 24 and took a two-shot lead on Ward entering the final 36 holes.
Then in the 11th round, Matthews began to pull away. He aced the first seven holes of the Red course before making pars on Nos. 8 and 9. Matthews, of Dallas, Tx., then aced the next seven holes and finished with a 22.
"Every putt I hit, I knew it was going in," Matthews said of round 11.
Ward, 40, shot a respectable 26 that round, but trailed by six shots entering the final round on the Blue course. Ward shot a 26 in round 12, but failed to make a significant run at Matthews.
Leading by five in the final round, Matthews aced Nos. 11 through 14 to seal his victory.
"I hit a few stinkers today and he didn't leave me any room for error," said Ward, who took home $1,200. "He was in front of me and the pressure was on me."
Mike Flavin was the low Augustan, finishing in a tie for 30th at 322. Course owner Mark Ross and Frank Warren each tied for 35th at 323.
Earlier in the week, the Martinez, Ga., team of George Vasniak, Ben Black, Jamal Allen and Jarrod Johnson carded a 77-under-par total of 499 to win the Junior Putters of America competition. The Martinez White team - made up of Brittany Davis, James Gay Jr, Blake Ross and Cody Smith - placed second, one shot back.
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