Mark Brown, Sonny Skinner Win PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship

January 16, 2024


Craig Dolch

For final results, click here.

For photos of the winners, click here.

By Craig Dolch

Special to the PGA of America

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2024) – Mark Brown and Sonny Skinner proved this week you’re never too old to learn in golf. Their lessons paid off with victories Tuesday in the rain-shortened PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club.

Brown, PGA Director of Instruction at nearby Stuart Yacht & Country Club, shot a 6-under 66 on the Wanamaker Course to finish at 10-under 133 and win the 50-59 Division by three strokes over Chad Proehl (66-136) of Urbandale, Iowa. Brown and Proehl each earned spots in the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver Resort in Oregon this September.

Skinner, PGA Director of Instruction at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton, Ga., also fired a 66, on the Ryder Course, to finish at 13-under 130, three ahead of Frank Esposito of New Jersey in the 60-and-older Division. Skinner and Brown have both won multiple PGA Winter Championship titles.

Brown won without hitting a shot Tuesday. He finished his second round Monday before a tornado hit the area and dumped more than 5 inches on PGA Golf Club. That forced PGA of America officials to reduce the championship from 54 to 36 holes.

“Both days were solid,” said the 57-year-old Brown. “I drove it solid, hit a lot of greens and it seemed like a lot of 10-to-15 footers were going in. It was an easy 10-under. It was a goal to get into the Senior PPC.”

Skinner, 63, made an eagle and 14 birdies against two bogeys to easily win. He started the tournament eagle-birdie-birdie, and cruised from there, finishing his round in Tuesday’s soft conditions.

“It’s the lowest two consecutive rounds I’ve probably shot in six years,” Skinner said of the 64-66. “Of course, as golfers, we always think we can do better.”

Fortunately, most top golfers help each other improve. Brown played with Skinner in last week’s Quarter Century Championship and noticed a flaw in Skinner’s putting stroke.

“Before we even walked off the green, he stopped me and said, ‘Dude, I can help you,’” Skinner said. “He gave me a little bit of advice with the tempo of my stroke, and it started working. Hat’s off to Mark Brown. To get a tip from a friend like that was very nice. I’ll pass it on.”

Brown’s game also needed a pickup. He made it to a seven-man playoff in last week’s Quarter Century Championship – won by Proehl – but Brown was the first player eliminated after hitting his approach into a lake on the first playoff hole. Brown blamed the mistake on his mental game, not the swing.

“I thought I had no chance to make the playoff, so I had a couple of cold beverages and a pizza,” Brown said. “When I heard I was in it, I ran over here and I wasn’t prepared. I wanted a re-do.”

Brown took a different tact Tuesday. He arrived an hour before play was supposed to be finished – just in case there was a playoff. “I kind of learned my lesson,” he said.

But Brown’s game still wasn’t sharp. After playing poorly in a practice round with Andrew Svoboda at the Medalist last weekend, Svoboda, another PGA instructor, told Brown his shoulders were too open.

“I came up here and tried to square my shoulders, and hit it as good as I have in a year,” Brown said. “That’s kind of what we do for each other.”

Proehl, attempting to win his second consecutive PGA Winter Championship, matched Brown’s 66, but was too far back after opening with a 70. Gene Walter (66-137) finished third and Matt Schalk (69-139) was fourth.

In the 60-and-older Division, Darrell Kestner (67-135) finished tied for third with Kirk Hanefeld (66-135). Kestner lost a playoff to Mike San Filippo in last week’s Quarter Century Championship.

Three players tied for fifth at 136: Charles Bolling (64), Jerry Tucker (68) and Gary Robison (68).

The PGA Winter Championships are presented by GolfPass and On Location. The PGA Winter Championships will take a break for next week’s PGA Show in Orlando, returning Jan. 29 with the first round of the 72-hole Senior-Junior Team Championship.

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Media Contacts
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