Stewart and Graybeal Find Success in Tennessee
03 Sep 2020 at 13:33 | Published by: PatPenguin | Views: 1750 | News search
Fret Stewart (L) and John Powell (R) (Photo by Kyle Cutshaw)
Stewart edges out Powell by one stroke to win the first annual Tennessee Pro Mini Golf Open at Mossy Creek Mini Golf.
Mossy Creek Mini Golf held the first annual Tennessee Pro Mini Golf Open. The tournament was sanctioned by the United States Pro Mini Golf Association (USPMGA). The one-day tournament held on Saturday, August 29, was played over 6 rounds. The tournament field featured veteran professional mini golfs as well as first time professionals.
Fred Stewart (Richmond, VA) shot a 3rd round 33 to tie the course record and jump him to a two-shot lead. Stewart never gave up that lead over the next three rounds. This marks Fred Stewart’s first professional mini golf victory. Stewart added up 18 aces (3 per round average) and two under par rounds (Professional Par at Mossy Creek Mini Golf is 36).
Local player and course record holder Matt Finley (Dandridge, TN) took the lead in the opening round matching his personal best round of 33. Finley aced holes 2, 5, 7 and 12 with his lone bogey being on hole 15. John Kropinak (Kansas City, Missouri) carded a 1st round 34 to place himself in second place. Finley and Kropinak were the only two players under par for the first round. In total there were 16 under par rounds shot in the pro division.
After back to back consistent rounds of 37, 36 (+1), another local, David Lanham (Rutledge, TN), surged to the top of the leaderboard. A pack of players at +2 found themselves T2 after the second round: Fred Stewart (37, 37), Travis Robinson (Bristol, TN 38, 36), Joey Graybeal (Bristol, TN 39, 35), Kenny Jarnigan (New Market, TN 39, 35). Round one leader Matt Finley struggle to match his opening score and had two double bogeys on the round. Lanham fell back as well after posting a 41 (+5) in round 3.
Round 3 saw Fred Stewart take the lead with his course record tying 33 (-3). The bogey free round saw aces on holes 5, 8 and 12. Stewart’s three round score of a 107 left him as the only player to be under par. 2019 USPGMA Masters Champion Joey Graybeal carded a third round 35 (-1) for a three-round total of 109 (+1). Players were given a lunch break and were repaired by the scores for rounds 4 and 5.
The penultimate group for rounds four and five paired 2019 Mossy Creek Masters Champion John Powell (Gaffney, SC) against Travis Robinson. Powell found himself in third place after this third round score of 35 (-1). The pairing scored well in round 4 with seven combined aces. Powell aced hole 5, 12, and 14. Robinson knocked down four aces on holes 1, 5, 6 & 11. Robinson carried that momentum into round 5 carding is third even par round of the day. After five rounds, both Robinson and Powell sat at 183 (+3).
The final pairing for rounds four and five matched up Fred Stewart and Joey Graybeal. Graybeal got off to a hot start acing hole #1 but dropped strokes on the difficult 4th hole and hole 8. He aced 16 to shoot an even par 36 to hold at +1 overall. Stewart used a hot back nine acing holes 11, 14 and 15 to shoot his second straight under par round with a 34. Stewart and Graybeal cooled a little in round 5 only acing a combined 3 holes. Graybeal shot a 39 leaving him at 184 (+4) and one shot out of the final group for the 6th round. Stewart finished his 5th round with a 37 to put him at 178 (-2).
After five rounds, Graybeal, Powell, Robinson and Stewart had pulled away from the pack. Stewart took a five-shot lead into the final round and was paired with Robinson. Graybeal finished his final round with a 37 (+1) for a total of 221 (+5). Robinson opened the final round with three pars but a double bogey on the 4th Hole left him 7 shots behind Stewart. Robinson picked up two shots on Stewart with aces on holes 5 and hole 17 but came up short with a total of 221 (+5) tied for third with Graybeal.
Stewart looked to be in the driver seat until he reached the challenging 13th hole. His tee shot came up short and rolled back into the sand trap. His 2nd and 3rd shots from the drop zone also came up short. Finally, Stewart was able to finish with a 5. While Stewart was finishing on 13, Powell aced hole 14. Stewart’s five shot lead was now only two. Stewart pared holes 14, 15, 16 and 17. With his two-shot lead still in place, Stewart lagged up short on the 18th Hole. His 6ft par putt just missed the cup but left a tap in for a one-shot victory. Stewart finished at 218 (+2). Powell finished at 219 (+3) to take the runner-up second place finish. Fred Stewart took home $600 of the $2000 purse for his 1st place finish.
Final Scores for TN Open
TN OPEN Amateur Division
The TN Open also had an amateur division. Amateurs played three rounds in the morning. Clayton Craft (Roanoke, VA) won the Amateur Division with a 116 (+8). Josh Janik (Talbot, TN) finished runner-up shooting 124 (+16) and Eli Janik finished third with a score of 126 (+18).
Joey Graybeal Aces Smoky Mountain Match Play
On Sunday, eight players returned to Mossy Creek Mini Golf for the Smoky Mountain Match Play. Players were seeded based on their Saturday scores.
In opening round action, #3 Seed Joey Graybeal, 2019 USPMGA US Pro Mini Golf Association Master’s Champion, found himself paired against Randy Reeves (Montgomery, Alabama), 2016 USPMGA US Pro Mini Golf Association Master’s Champion. The pairing saw some of the lowest scoring of the weekend. Graybeal was able to edge out Reeves 1UP after 18 holes.
Gary Hester (Calabash, NC), who is currently the number one ranked player in the USPMGA Standings and finished runner-up in the USPMGA Masters in 2018 and 2019 and has twice finished runner up in the USPMGA US Open, was paired against Team US Member Tim Tally (Goldston, NC). It took 19 holes for Hester to edge out Tally.
Graybeal’s second round match was against John Powell, Runner-up in Saturday’s TN Open. Powell’s bogey on the 18th Hole forced extra holes. Graybeal claimed victory by scoring an ace on the difficult hole #4.
Hesters’s second round match was against TN Pro Mini Golf Open Champion Fred Stewart. Hester was able to pull away on the back nine winning 2UP.
The Graybeal-Hester final set up a rematch of the 2019 USPMGA Masters where Graybeal was able to pick up a one-shot victory over Hester. Graybeal got off to a hot with his first ace of the round coming on hole #4. This is the same hole that he aced to eliminated Powell. He followed that with aces on holes 5 and hole 6. Hester was not able to answer and was quickly three holes down. A bogey by Graybeal on the 7th hole left him two up. Hester pared the 8th hole. Graybeal’s tee shot on the 8th hole was not able to hold the plateau and looked to leave him with an almost certain bogey. Graybeal made the miraculous deuce putt to hold onto his two-hole advantage.
The two played all square until the 12th hole. Hester’s tee shot took the first pipe and threw him outside of 5 feet. Hester was able to navigate the difficult down hill breaker for his par. Graybeal also took the first pipe. Graybeal’s tee shot came out slow leaving a difficult down hill breaker. Graybeal tried to hit his deuce putt firm through the break but missed and let his lead drop to one. Graybeal was able to regain his two-hole lead when he aced the 16th hole. Two holes down with two holes to play, Hester had to make an ace on hole 17 to extend the match. Hester use the mound to the right of the hole to run his ball in the hole for the ace. Hester, 1 down, pared the 18th hole. Graybeal was able to lag up close to the 18th hole to seal his 1UP victory over Hester.
Smoky Mountain Match Play Champion Joey Graybeal received $600 for the victory. Runner-up Gary Hester received $200.
Mossy Creek Mini Golf will be hosting the Tennessee Pro Mini Golf Open and the Smoky Mountain Match Play on August 28 and 29 2021. Mossy Creek Mini Golf is also the host site of the 2022 USPMGA US Open.
Thank you to Kyle Cutshaw for the article and pictures.