Thursday, July 15, 2004

Putter laughs all the way to the bank

Kevin Lacey of White Oak has been part of the Professional Putters Association since 1992. The 32-year-old has won a handful of national tournaments and was the PPA's leading money-winner in 1997. Lacey is one of five putters from the area on the tour (Robin Ventura, John Ventura, James Weber and Mark Hasty are the others).

While gearing up for next week's National Championship and World Match Play Championship, the Colerain graduate took time to answer some questions from Enquirer reporter Ryan Ernst.

Q: How did you get into the sport of putting?

A: Back in the mid- to early '80s, there was a Putt-Putt (Golf and Games) course near Northgate. My mom used to drop me off there for what they called Super Saturdays, where they had deals for golf and arcades and food. I'd go up there and play. I'd go up so much, they talked me into playing in a junior program up there, and that's how I got started.

Q: When did you turn pro?

A: I turned pro in '92. I went to some amateur tournaments in the late '80s, but I hadn't played in a few years. I guess I came out of semi-retirement.

Q: Do you keep track of your career earnings?

A: Counting regionals and nationals, it's probably over $80,000. The national championship is usually a $25,000 purse, $3,000 for first.

Q: Have you ever been on TV?

A: I've made ESPN five times. I've won two tournaments on ESPN. At the Southern Open in '88, I was on and I shot a ... 19. It was the lowest total ever in a national tournament.

Q: So, is a round of 18 kind of like a 300 in bowling?

A: No, a round of 18 is like a 900 in bowling. Only two have ever been shot. They happened in 1975 and 1979. But the scores are starting to get low again.

Q: What kind of reaction do you get when you tell people you're a pro putter?

A: It varies. When I tell my friends, they think it's pretty cool. Most people laugh about it until you tell them how much money you can make. I've won two checks for $10,000.

Q: What's the difference between the courses you play for tournaments and the courses the rest of us play for fun?

A: These are Putt Putt golf franchises. The rails are aluminum and perfectly smooth, so it's somewhat like billiards. If you hit it, it will bounce off like it should, not like regular miniature golf, with rocks and things.

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