BARRINGTON, Ill. – August 24, 2022 – Brian Carroll (The Hawk Country Club) won the 2022 Nadler Golf Cars Illinois PGA Professional Championship in a three-hole playoff on Wednesday at Makray Memorial Golf Club. This marks the first career Illinois PGA Major Championship victory for Carroll and also marked the first Section Championship to go to a playoff since the 2018 Championship at Stonewall Orchard Golf Club. Carroll was also a part of the playoff in 2018. Carroll will lead a group of 10 Illinois PGA Professionals at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship.
“This is certainly a tough tournament to win,” said Carroll. “We have so many good players in our Section. I thought this was the deepest field we have ever had. We had a couple of guys that got their Class A membership recently and they both qualified for the National Professional Championship in their first time playing in this event. Having those guys come into this event, I knew I had to play great golf to qualify again.”
Carroll carded a final round of 4-under-par 67 to go along with rounds of 69 and 71 for a tournament total of 6-under-par 207. 54 holes wasn’t enough to decide the Championship. Carroll and Mike Small (University of Illinois) were tied at 6-under-par after 54 holes and needed the championship’s three-hole aggregate playoff format to decide the champion.
The playoff was contested on the par-4 16th hole, the par-3 17th hole, and the par-5 18th hole. Carroll had the honors on the first playoff hole and hit his approach shot to six feet to make birdie. Small left his second shot just short of the green and chipped up to about three feet to make par. Carroll moved to the second playoff hole with a one-stroke lead.
Both Carroll and Small made par on the 17th hole and moved to the par-5 18th hole. Small hit his drive into the right rough. He pulled out his hybrid and left his second shot in the greenside bunker. Carroll was a few yards ahead of Small in the fairway and had 239 yards into the green. He also hit hybrid into the greenside bunker. Both players splashed their bunker shots to about 10 feet. Small failed to convert his birdie putt and Carroll was able to cash in for birdie to secure his first Illinois PGA Professional Championship victory.
Some excellent golf was required from Carroll in order to get into the playoff. He started the day three strokes off the lead and remained three strokes off the lead after the front nine. Carroll struggled on the front nine but kept himself in the tournament as he turned at 1-under-par for the tournament.
Carroll made his move on the back nine. He made back-to-back to birdies on holes 10 and 11 to get to 3-under-par. The group behind him had made some bogeys on their front nine, leaving Carroll one shot off the lead. Carroll used the slopes around the green to his advantage on both the 10th and 11th holes. On 10, Carroll hit a low cut onto the green, it rolled up the back of the green and stopped prior to running off the back and rolled back down towards the hole to about eight feet. On 11, Carroll hit his second shot towards the left side of the green, it caught the slope and ran up to the hole inside 10 feet.
The birdie stretch continued for Carroll on the 14th hole. At the time, Carroll got to 4-under-par and took sole possession of the lead. He then stepped to the tee of the par-5 15th hole. He hit his second shot to the center of the green and had about 12 feet for eagle. He was unable to make eagle, but his birdie helped extend his lead to two strokes.
With the players behind him making moves up the leaderboard, Carroll found himself with a one-stroke lead on the par-3 17th hole. He hit his drive to the front of the green and poured in a 70-foot putt for birdie to regain sole possession of the lead. Carroll made par on his 54th hole to finish the day at 4-under-par 67 for a tournament total of 6-under-par 207.
“To win something like this, a lot of times you have to get good breaks,” said Carroll. “On 17 I rolled in close to a 70-footer for birdie. I was just trying to make a par and move on to 18. Rolling in a putt like that, you kind of start thinking that things are going to go your way.”
Small’s road to the playoff was just as eventful as Carroll’s. Small played in the final pairing on Wednesday and started the day two strokes off the lead. Chasing down one of his playing partners, Kyle Donovan, Small made his first birdie of the day on the par-3 fourth hole after almost making a hole-in-one. The birdie moved Small to 4-under-par, and he was just one off the lead at that time. A bogey on the fifth hole dropped Small back to 3-under-par. He took advantage of the par-5 sixth hole. He hit a nice shot from the front of the green on six and left himself a short birdie putt. He moved to 4-under-par and was two off the lead at the time. Small made pars on his remaining three holes and actually moved into a share for the lead as his playing partners made bogeys on their final holes on the front nine.
Small moved into sole possession of the lead on the 12th hole. The short par-4 was playing 295 yards in the final round. Small drove his tee shot into the greenside bunker and hit a fantastic bunker shot to about eight feet. Again, taking advantage of his playing partner’s miscues, Small made birdie to get to 5-under-par and move to the top of the leaderboard for the Championship.
Things got shaky for Small on the par-3 13th green as he struggled to get up and down from the greenside bunker and made double bogey to drop to 3-under-par. At the time, Carroll moved into sole possession of the lead. Small bounced back making back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to get to 5-under-par for the Championship. Needing a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, Small reached the par-5 in two and had an eagle putt to win the Championship. He lagged the putt up close but wasn’t able to cash in the eagle. He tapped in the birdie to force the playoff between himself and Carroll.
Despite not being able to pull off the victory in the playoff, Small is exempt into the 2023 PGA Professional Championship from his National Championship victory in 2009.
Carroll and Small will be joined by Jeff Kellen (Butler National Golf Club), Curtis Malm (White Eagle Golf Club), Roy Biancalana (Blackberry Oaks Golf Club), Andy Mickelson (Mistwood Golf Club), Kyle Donovan (Oak Park Country Club), Matt Rion (Briarwood Country Club), Frank Hohenadel (Mistwood Golf Club), and Kevin Flack (Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club) at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship at Twin Warriors Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa and Santa Ana Golf Club in Sana Ana Pueblo, New Mexico from April 30 – May 3.
“I have three goals every year and I’ve been pretty close to achieving them all but have never actually gotten any of them done,” said Carroll. “Today is one check mark off that list. I haven’t won an Illinois PGA Major as a Class-A member. I’ve been runner-up at every major so getting this done is great.”
Kellen, Donovan, and Flack will all be making their first career PGA Professional Championship appearances next April.
The Nadler Golf Car Illinois PGA Professional Championship marked the third Illinois PGA major in 2022. The final Major of the year is the Illinois PGA Players Championship at Lake Shore Country Club on September 26-27.
The Illinois PGA would like to thank long-time Illinois PGA Professional partner, Nadler Golf Cars for their continued support of the Section. Nadler Golf Cars has sponsored the Illinois PGA Professional Championship for nearly two decades.
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The Illinois Section of the PGA of America is a professional organization serving the men and women golf professionals in northern and central Illinois who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf. The Illinois PGA is responsible for the administration of competitive golf tournaments, educational opportunities, support programs and growth of the game initiatives. With over 840 members and associates, the Illinois PGA is one of the 41 regional Sections that comprise the PGA of America. The Illinois PGA Foundation focuses its community efforts on promoting the goodwill and growth of the game with an emphasis on activities that benefit youth. Foundation initiatives include: GolfWorks Illinois, Youth-based Scholarship Funds and the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. For more information about the Illinois PGA and the Illinois PGA Foundation, please visit www.ipga.com and join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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Illinois PGA Communications