Ward prevailed in an 18-hole playoff over Kent Cranford after being tied (at 81) at the end of three rounds.
It was just another notch in the belt for Ward as he added to his long list of accomplishments since turning pro in 1982. He is a four-time PPA player of the year, a 2002 Hall of Fame inductee and a two-time putter of the decade for the 1990s and 2000s.
“I played well and the course is tough,” Ward said. “Everyone is so good out here and it’s going to come down to making one or two big putts. Thankfully, I was able to make them tonight.”
Ward won in the playoff by four strokes and he had everything working for him despite the course being wet and a bit slower.
Cranford made a charge in the last round by shooting a 27 to tie Ward atop the leaderboard and force the playoff. Ward started off the playoff on the right foot, nailing an ace.
Chris Taylor of Kingsport was the top amateur for the state tourney, winning comfortably by three strokes. It was also his birthday on Thursday, so he was able to celebrate in style.
“It feels great to win on the home course and on my birthday — it’s a great feeling,” Taylor said. “It helps a little bit to have the home-course advantage, especially when it’s wet. I play on the other Southern Tour tournaments out of town and all of these guys are tough.”
The fun does not stop as the weekend will be full of events at the putt putt course. The Tournament Player’s Championship is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, with professionals playing a combined eight rounds over two days for the grand prize of $15,000. The amateurs tournament will begin on Friday.
This will be the first time that Kingsport has hosted a PPA event and judging by the turnout on Thursday night, there will be well over 100 players for the big tournament over the weekend.