LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – August 11, 2020 – Mike Small (University of Illinois) won the Illinois Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Merit Club on August 11. This marks Small’s fourth consecutive win at this event. He becomes just the second Illinois PGA Professional to win this event four times in a row (Gray Groh). He will lead nine Illinois Section PGA Professionals to compete on Oct. 15-18, in the 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Small turned in a winning total of 8-under-par 136 to capture his fourth straight Illinois Senior PGA Professional Championship.
“I’m just grateful we have places to play and tournaments to play in,” said Small. “We haven’t been able to play much this year. So, any chance you get to play in an event, as a professional, you have to take advantage of it.”
Small finished the first round with a 3-under-par 69, and was two strokes behind round one leader, John Varner (Beverly CC), heading into the final round. He carded a bogey-free opening round with birdies on holes 2, 14 and 18.
The second round started slow for Small who carded an even-par 36. He got back to even-par for the day with a birdie on the par-4 fifth hole, but gave the stroke back on the sixth hole. Small would go on to birdie the par-5 eighth hole to get back to even for the day.
Small made his move on the final nine holes of the tournament. He carded a bogey-free back nine with five birdies. He started his back nine with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole and never looked back. Small made back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 and closed his round out with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 for a final round, 5-under-par 67 and a tournament total 8-under-par 136.
“The course was in really good shape these past two days, “said Small. “I played solid, I didn’t really do anything great for the first 27-holes. But the last nine holes I was five under, which was fun to see. It was anyone’s tournament with nine holes to go and it was still really anyone’s tournament with three holes to go. Then I finished birdie, birdie so that felt good.”
David Hannon (Evanston GC), Jim Sobb (Ivanhoe Club), and David Paeglow (Kishwaukee CC) tied for second place at the Illinois Senior PGA Professional Championship.
Hannon recorded a 2-under-par 70 in the first round and trailed the lead by three strokes. He had two bogeys and two birdies on the front side in round one to turn at even-par 36. Hannon went onto to card a bogey-free back nine with birdies on 12 and 14 for a 2-under-par 34. Hannon’s bogey free stretch carried over into round two as he went bogey-free on his opening nine in the final round. He added a birdie on the par-4 first hole to turn at 1-under-par 35. Hannon birdied the 12th and 14th holes for the second day in a row, before making a double bogey on the par-3 16th hole. Hannon turned in a final round score of 1-under-par 71 for a tournament total 3-under-141.
Sobb, who has won this event five times, started the final round tied for fourth and three-strokes off the lead. He made two birdies on the front nine during round one and followed up with a bogey-free back nine and one birdie to shoot 2-under-par 70 in the first round. Sobb battled in the second round. He carded four bogeys and two birdies on the front nine and made the turn at 2-over-par 38 for the day. He found his stride on the back nine as he went bogey-free for the second straight day and made three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 to shoot 1-under-par 71 in the final round and 3-under-par 141 for the tournament.
Paeglow trailed Varner by one stroke after a 4-under-par 68 in round one. His first round featured five birdies, two on the front nine and three on the back nine, an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole and three bogeys. Round two featured four more birdies for Paeglow, but he also carded three bogeys and a double bogey to shoot 1-over-par 73 in the final round and 3-under-par 141 for the tournament.
Small and Roy Biancalana (Blackberry Oaks GC) were both exempt into the 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship. They we will be joined by Hannon, Sobb, Paeglow, Kevin Rafferty (Dick’s Sporting Goods), Kevin Healy (Black Sheep GC), Doug Bauman (Biltmore CC) and John Guyton (Chicago GC) at the PGA Golf Club on Oct. 15-18.
The Senior PGA Professional Championship brings together a field of 264 contestants representing the PGA of America’s 41 nationwide Sections and features a total purse of $300,000. The first two rounds will be conducted on the Ryder and Wanamaker Courses. The first cut will be made after 36 holes of play to the low 90 scorers and ties. The second cut will be made after 54 holes of play to the low 70 scorers and ties. The final two rounds will be played on the Wanamaker Course.
Begun in 1989, the Senior PGA Professional Championship is modeled after the PGA Professional Championship, with a field of 50-and-older senior PGA Professionals who advanced through 41 Section Championships conducted from June through August this year.
The top 35 finishers in the national Championship earn a berth in the 82nd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which will be conducted in May 27-30, 2021, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The top five finishers earn an exemption into the final stage of the 2021 PGA Tour Champions National Finals in November 2021. Since its debut, many participants in the Senior PGA Professional Championship have used their success in the event as a springboard to a PGA Tour Champions career.
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