The disappointment wasn't difficult to find on the face of Mark Ross.
The owner of the Putt-Putt Fun Center in Martinez stood four shots back entering the final day of the Pro Putters Association national championship Friday. A couple of shots here or there in the final four rounds and Ross could claim his first major title.
It didn't happen. Ross failed to rally on his home course and finished well behind champion Brad Lebo.
"You've really got to be at the top of your game to beat them," Ross said of the touring association veterans. "I think that showed with my game (the final day)."
The national championship was the crown jewel of a weeklong mix of pro and amateur competitions. Ross said overall everything went well, and he plans to vie for the 2009 national championships, which will be the 50th anniversary of the PPA.
"There's a lot of hard work going into this week," Ross said. "That work was well worth it. I think everybody appreciated it."
Maybe no one appreciated it more than Lebo, a dentist from Shippensburg, Pa. The PPA's "Best Player Never to Have Won a Major," Lebo held on for a two-shot victory over Rainey Statum.
Lebo not only claimed the national championship ring and the $3,000 grand prize, but the 16-year pro passed along the "Best Player Never to Have Won a Major" albatross on to someone else.
"I guess we don't have to worry about that now," he said.
Lebo shot rounds of 24-24-22-27 on Friday to clinch his first major victory with a 90-under-par 198 total for the eight-round event. He opened the event with 24-27-25-25 and averaged 24.8 shots - almost 12-under-par - per round.
Statum, of Huffman, Texas, placed second (200) for $2,000, while John Bambling of Pittsburgh finished third (205, $1,600). Frank Warren of Martinez was the top local finisher, trying for 27th place at 217. Ross tied for 36th place (220).
Vanette Block won the women's division with final rounds of 27-26-25-26 for a 231 total.
Caleb Kennedy, of Asheboro, N.C., defeated Larry Smith, of Birmingham, Ala., in a playoff after the two tied at 214, one shot ahead of Jeff Brown, of North Olmsted, Ohio. Bo DeBruin, of Martinez, was the top local finisher, tying for eighth place at 223.
Kennedy shot 26 to win the 18-hole playoff by four shots. He forced extra holes with his game-saving putt on the final hole of regulation. After making a terrible first putt, he drilled his second shot over the hill fronting the hole, off the back rail and back into the cup for a clutch par.
"I was more nervous on that than the playoff," Kennedy said. "That was my best putt of the tournament."
Lebo's best putts came in the next-to-last round, when he made nine consecutive birdies for 22. He opened up a six-shot advantage entering the final round.
Maybe no one deserved to win the tournament more than Lebo. Friday marked his 16th day in Augusta.
"It's time to go home," Lebo said. "I think I've been over the whole town."
NOTES: Earlier last week, Augustan Steve Toomey won the PPA senior national championship. Michael Foster, of Smithville, Mo., won the Amateur Putters Association senior championship.
Randy Orr and Jay Klapper took home the PPA national doubles championship, and Jeff Carr and Larry Hoover claimed the APA doubles title.
Rick Culverhouse won the ProPutters.com Classic, while Jeff Brown won the AmPutters.com Classic.
Carr later claimed the APA World Match Play championship. Peter Neumann took home the PPA World Match Play championship.
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