|Bob Sowards Captures 60th PGA Stroke Play Championship|
|Bob Sowards, PGA teaching professional at the New Albany (Ohio) Country Club, becomes the second player to win the PGA Stroke Play Championship three times. Sowards shot 65-71-71-68—275 to win the Championship by one stroke. Frank Bensel finished second.|
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Bob Sowards, PGA teaching professional at the New Albany (Ohio) Country Club, was able to hold onto his third round lead on Thursday (Jan. 31) to win the 60th PGA Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Tied with Frank Bensel, PGA assistant professional at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., and Tim Weinhart, PGA assistant professional at The Standard Club in Duluth, Ga., after three rounds at nine under par 207, Sowards beat Bensel by a shot with 68-275 on the Ryder Course, overcoming a bogey at the third hole with birdies at Nos. 2, 4, 6, 10 and 14.
Bensel, who trailed by three strokes after Sowards' 20-foot birdie putt at the 14th, birdied the last two holes for 69-276.
"That putt Bob [Sowards] made at 14 was big," Bensel said. "I had hit my second shot closer but he made his and I missed mine. I still thought I might have had a chance if I could have birdied the last three holes."
Bensel missed a 25-foot putt at the short 16th and finished with four birdies and a bogey.
Weinhart three-putted to bogey the first hole and after Sowards and Bensel birdied the second, Weinhart never got closer than two strokes the rest of the day. He closed with a 73 to tie Scott Berliner of Delmar, N.Y., for fourth at 280. Berliner had the day's low score, a 65.
Defending champion Danny Balin of Rockville, Md., was third.
"I feel I played a really good, solid round of golf and that's what I wanted to do today," Sowards said. "I felt I was in control of my game all day."
Two years ago, Sowards led Bensel by three strokes after 54 holes, but shot 77 the last day to finish five behind Bensel's closing 69-279. Last year, Balin trailed Sowards by three and won by the same margin, 276 to 279 on final rounds of 67 and 73, respectively.
Sowards, 44, is the second player to win the PGA Stroke Play Championship three times, the first two coming in 2005-06. The late John Barnum was won the Championship in 1963-64 and 1968.
This week, Sowards tries to become the third three-time winner of the PGA Match Play Championship, following titles in 2005 and 2012. Rick Vershure was the PGA Match Play champion in 1990, 1993 and 2003; Rick Schuller in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
If he successfully defends his title, Sowards will be the first PGA Professional to capture three PGA Winter Championships in the same season. He teamed with Schuller for the PGA Senior-Junior title last month.
"I'm looking forward to the match play," Sowards added. "I really enjoy that format more than stroke play. You can play more aggressively, which fits my personality. It's one-on-one. You always know where you stand."
Jeff Sorenson of Blaine, Minn., and Joe Gothmann of Tarrytown, N.Y., shared medalist honors yesterday in qualifying for the 50th PGA Match Play Championship. Each shot 65 Monday on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club. The championship will be played Tuesday through Friday on the Dye Course. As defending champion, Sowards was exempt from qualifying. The low 63 will join him in the main event.
Sowards earned $4,500, Bensel $3,300, from the Stroke Play purse of $51,250.
PGA Stroke Play Championship