Santos Continues PGA Winning Ways


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Allen Santos of Lowell, Mass., continued his unlikely march through the 40th annual PGA Match Play Championship, winning his fourth match in as many days Friday on the Dye course at the PGA Golf Club.
Santos, 43, head professional at Trull Brook Golf Course in Tewksbury, Mass., never trailed against former champion Jerry Tucker of Stuart but still had to birdie the last hole for a 1-up victory.
'I've played well and made a ton of birdies this week,' Santos said. 'I used to be a meat-cutter so they call me 'the butcher' for the way I play back in Massachusetts.' His best performances in Florida have been a couple of thirds in the PGA Senior-Junior.
After drawing a first round bye Monday, Santos beat Chris Tucker, Fort Mill, S.C., 3 and 2; former Senior PGA Tour player Roy Vucinich, Moon Township, Pa., 1-up; min-tour veteran Mike Melton, Old Westbury, N.Y., 6 and 4; and John Hickson, West Brook, Maine, who lost to Jerry Tucker in the 1999 Match Play finals.
Santos led Jerry Tucker by one hole after nine, won the 10th but lost the 11th and 12th and the match was even. They halved the next three holes with pars, Santos birdied the par-3 16th for the lead, then hit his drive wide left and had to take a drop from an unplayable lie and lost the par-5 17th. At the par-4 18th, Santos hit a 175-yard 6-iron approach to within a foot and subsequently birdied for the win.
In the quarterfinals Saturday morning, Santos plays Bob Ralston of Little Rock, Ark., one of three senior pros 50 years and older remaining among the final eight. Two-down after three holes against Jim Smoot of Huntington, N.Y., Ralston birdied four consecutive holes enroute to a 4 and 2 victory.
Two-time former champion Rick Vershure of Armonk, N.Y., who turned 50 two weeks ago, also advance with a 3 and 2 victory over Tim Angis of Saco, Maine, and plays Rob Labritz of Fairfield, Conn., Saturday. Trailing by two after bogies at the third and sixth holes, Vershure, the winner in 1990 and 1993, won the seventh, ninth and 10th with birdies, the 11th with par and the 13th with another birdie. Labritz made seven birdies in a 4 and 2 win over Tony Kelley of Holyoke, Mass.
The semifinals are scheduled Sunday, the finals Monday. The Greg Norman Collection and Reebok Golf co-sponsor the $52,130 championship, the winner earning $4,500.
Friday's Results:
Steve Heckel, Carterville, Ill., d. Robert Sedorcek, St. Louis, Mo., 1-up.
Sam Olson, Redding, Conn., d. Cory Crelan, Edgartown, Mass., 2 and 1.
Allen Santos, Lowell, Mass., d. Jerry Tucker, Stuart, 1-up.
Bob Ralston, Little Rock, Ark., d. Jim Smoot, Huntington, N.Y., 4 and 2.
Rick Vershure, Armonk, N.Y., d. Tim Angis, Saco, Maine, 3 and 2.
Rob Labritz, Fairfield, Conn., d. Tony Kelley, Holyoke, Mass., 4 and 2.
Chris Campbell, Vero Beach, d. John Hayes, St. Louis, Mo., 20th hole.
Frank Dully II, Salem, Mass., d. Ed Humenik, Palm City, 1-up.