MEDINAH, Ill. – August 26, 2020 –
Mike Small (University of Illinois) won his 13th Illinois PGA Professional Championship at Medinah Country Club – Course #1. This marks Small’s first win at this event since 2016 and the second time he has won the Section Championship at Medinah Country Club.
“I think that’s always a nice thing to win at great facilities like Medinah,” said Small. “I think it’s great that cubs like Medinah and Olympia Fields host events like this. The club professionals are out there promoting the sport and growing the game, so I think it’s nice to reward the PGA Professionals with nice venues to play at. I think that’s commendable and very nice for those clubs to do that.”
Small, who tied the Medinah Course #1 record in Round two, held a one-stroke lead entering today’s final round. He spent the day trying to hold off the Mistwood Golf Club attack of Andy Mickelson and Frank Hohenadel who entered the day trailing Small by one stroke.
Small’s final round started with a birdie on the par-5 first hole, making him 3-under-par on that hole for the week. Another birdie on the par-4 second hole gave Small an early two-stroke lead over the field. He carded just his third bogey of the week on the par-3 fifth hole leaving the door slightly open for his playing partners. He made par on the par-5 ninth hole to make the turn at 1-under-par for the day and 11-under-par for the tournament.
A bogey-free back nine secured Small’s 13th Section Championship victory. He started the back nine with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole, increasing his lead to two strokes. He birded the par-4 13th hole for the second straight day and found himself with a three-stroke lead with five holes remaining. Although his lead was not as large as last year’s Section Championship, Small remained focused at the task at hand and closed out his round with five straight pars to shoot 3-under-par 68 in the final round and 13-under-par 200 to win the Championship by four strokes.
“I relied on some of those feelings from last year that I wasn’t going to do it again this year,” said Small. “I didn’t get wrapped up in the score. I didn’t get wrapped up in what everyone else was doing, keeping score and who’s doing what.”
“Winning this tournament doesn’t get old and it doesn’t get easier,” said Small. “It’s been awhile since I won so it feels good to contend. I always want to be in contention, so it felt good this week. The course was hard today. I hung in there. I didn’t play great but scored well. I didn’t hit it well, but I competed and putted really well today.”
Mickelson, who entered Wednesday afternoon searching for his first Illinois PGA Major victory, closed Small’s gap early on the front nine. After a par on the first hole, Mickelson made birdies on the par-4 third hole and the par-3 seventh hole and was tied with Small at 11-under-par for the tournament. However, Mickelson would go onto make bogey on the par-5 ninth hole to drop back to 10-under-par for the tournament and make three straight bogeys on holes 13, 14 and 15. He closed out his round strong with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 to card an even-par 71 for the day and 9-under-par 204 for the tournament.
Hohenadel also made a run at Small and got off to a good start birdieing the par-5 first hole and moving to 10-under-par for the tournament. At that time, he still trailed Small by one-stroke and would fall back another stroke with a bogey on the par-4 second hole, to drop back to 9-under-par for the tournament. He made seven straight birdies to close out the front nine and turned at even-par 36 for the day and 9-under-par for the tournament. He trailed Small by two strokes entering the back nine. A birdie at the par-4 10th kept Hohenadel two shots back of Small. Despite having a few birdie opportunities, Hohenadel couldn’t pick up another birdie on the back nine and ended the day with an even-par 71 and tournament total of 9-under-par 204 to finish T2 along with his fellow Mistwood Golf Club Professional Andy Mickelson.
“To those guys the respect is mutual,” said Small. “I have a lot of respect for both Andy and Frank. They’re both very good players. I enjoy playing with them.”
Small, who was exempt into the 54th PGA Professional Championship, will be joined by Mickelson, Hohenadel, 2019 Section Champion, Travis Johns (Medinah Country Club), Roy Biancalana (Blackberry Oaks Golf Club), Chris Green (Glen View Club), Curtis Malm (White Eagle Golf Club), Jim Billiter (Glen View Club), Brian Carroll (The Hawk Country Club) and George Goich (Flossmoor Country Club) at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida on April 25-28, 2021.
The PGA Professional Championship and 41 PGA Section Championships feature a total purse of more than $1.5 million. The PGA Professional Championship purse is $650,000, distributed among those who make the cut in the 312-player field. Golf Channel will televise all four rounds of the national Championship.
If eligibility is met and maintained, the low 20 scorers in 2021 will earn berths into the 103rd PGA Championship, May 20-23, 2021, at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
In addition to the Walter Hagen Cup, the PGA Professional Championship winner also receives an exemption into the next 10 PGA Professional Championships and exemptions into six PGA TOUR events over a 12-month period.
Established in 1968, the PGA Professional Championship roster of Champions includes the following premier TOUR professionals: Sam Snead, Bob Rosburg, Don Massengale, Ed Dougherty, Larry Gilbert, and Bruce Fleisher.
The PGA Professional Championship is presented by Club Car and OMEGA. Supporting sponsors are Titleist/FootJoy, NIKE and TaylorMade. Presenting partners are Golf Channel and the PGA TOUR. The 41 Section Championships and the National Championship offer a combined purse of more than $1.5 million.
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