PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2023) - Bob Sowards had a game plan and stuck to it. It paid dividends for the PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, as he cruised to a dominant six-stroke victory at the 2023 Senior PGA Professional Championship on Sunday.
Sowards recorded a stellar 6-under-par 66 on PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker course to finish the week at 15-under-par 272.
Sunday’s win marks the second Senior PGA Professional Championship title for Sowards. He previously claimed the Leo Fraser Trophy in 2018, also at PGA Golf Club. He is the seventh PGA of America Golf Professional to win two Senior PGA Professional Championships.
“It’s awesome,” said Sowards. “Being able to win another one, it validates the first one. It’s a huge win for me and I’m very happy.”
Jerry Haas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) finished second at 9-under-par 278. Mike Small (Champaign, Ill.) took third at 7-under-par 280 while Tracy Phillips (Tulsa, Okla.) and Jeff Brehaut (Park City, Utah) tied for fourth at 5-under-par 282.
Sowards entered Sunday’s final round with a three-shot advantage. His game plan revolved around picking conservative targets, being aggressive and making pars. Sowards did that and then some throughout Sunday’s finale.
Following four consecutive pars on holes 1-4, the veteran competitor collected birdies on the par-4, 405-yard fifth and par-3, 184-yard sixth holes. He added pars on holes 7-9 to complete his front nine at 2-under.
The Southern Ohio PGA Member caught fire down the stretch with birdies on the par-4, 389-yard 12th; par-5, 559-yard 13th; and par-4 341-yard 15th holes. He added an eagle for good measure on the par-5, 510-yard 16th.
After hitting a strong drive to the right side of the fairway, Sowards had a “great angle to the hole” with his three-iron from 224 yards. He drilled it “perfectly” into the hill where it rolled to about 10-12 feet before he made the putt.
“That was nice to get a couple extra shots on the lead going into 17, especially 18, where anything can happen,” said Sowards.
Sowards closed with back-to-back pars on holes 17 and 18 to finish with the low-round of the day at 66 and clinch the victory.
“I can’t really play much better than I played today,” said Sowards. “I executed it perfectly, didn’t take any chances and made a lot of birdies. It was fun.”
Haas, the Head Men’s Golf Coach at Wake Forest University, started in fifth place on Sunday before shooting an impressive 5-under-par 67 to finish second. The Carolinas PGA Member collected eight birdies including five in a row on holes 12-16 as he went 5-under on the back nine.
“I started the tournament with 66, which was a good round that first day,” said Haas. “I wanted to end it with a 66 and I actually hit a very good putt to tap in for 67. I finished second, not too bad for an old guy.”
Haas, who has reaped the rewards from his recent commitment to stretching, hopes to build off this week’s performance.
“I’m going to continue to stretch and continue to work on my game a little bit,” said Haas. “I’m excited, maybe in my 60’s I’ll figure out my putting again. I putted better this week. If I putt well, I’m a pretty decent player.”
Small, the Head Men’s Golf Coach at the University of Illinois, shot 2-under-par 70 on Sunday. Phillips, PGA Director of Instruction at Cedar Ridge Country Club, registered 3-under-par 69. Brehaut, Utah PGA Life Member, posted 2-under-par 70.
Sowards headlines the Corebridge Financial PGA Team of PGA of America Golf Professionals who will compete in the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship from May 23-26 at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.
“Being able to compete against the best seniors in the world means the world to me,” said Sowards. “Being able to test my game against the best players is what I’ve always wanted to do. I love playing in majors.”
The complete roster of Senior PGA of America Golf Professionals who earned a place on the Corebridge PGA Team for the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is below in the order they finished.
Bob Sowards (Dublin, Ohio, Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club, Southern Ohio Section)
Jerry Haas (Winston-Salem, N.C., Wake Forest University, Carolinas Section)
Mike Small (Champaign, Ill., University of Illinois, Illinois Section)
Tracy Phillips (Tulsa, Okla., Cedar Ridge Country Club, South Central Section)
Jeff Brehaut (Park City, Utah, Utah PGA Life Member, Utah Section)
Jeffrey Schmid (Iowa City, Iowa, Brown Deer Golf Club, Iowa Section)
Mick Smith (Summit, Wis., Mick Smith Golf, Wisconsin Section)
Don Berry (Rogers, Minn., Edinburgh USA Golf Club, Minnesota Section)
Tim Weinhart (Canton, Ga., Heritage Golf Links, Georgia Section)
Steve Schneiter (Sandy, Utah, Schneiter’s Pebblebrook, Utah Section)
Ray Franz (Mount Pleasant, S.C., Daniel Island Club, Carolinas Section)
Rob Sedorcek (Ballwin, Mo., Family Golf & Learning Center, Gateway Section)
David Ladd (West Palm Beach, Fla., Champions Club at Summerfield, South Florida Section)
Eric Bogar (Houston, Texas, Golfcrest Country Club, Southern Texas Section)
Frank Esposito (Florham Park, N.J., Mountain Ridge Country Club, New Jersey Section)
Greg Gregory (Joshua, Texas, Southern Oaks Golf Club, Northern Texas Section)
Craig Bowden (Bloomington, Ind., Indiana PGA Life Member, Indiana Section)
Chad Proehl (Urbandale, Iowa, Sugar Creek Golf Course, Iowa Section)
Jeff Hart (Solana Beach, Calif., Southern California PGA Life Member, Southern California Section)
Dave McNabb (Newark, Del., Applebrook Golf Club, Philadelphia Section)
Alan Morin (Royal Palm Beach, Fla., The Club at Ibis, South Florida Section)
Rich Steinmetz (Gilbertsville, Pa., Spring Ford Country Club, Philadelphia Section)
Chad Kurmel (Okemos, Mich., Michigan State University, Michigan Section)
Jake Reeves (Knoxville, Tenn., Fox Den Country Club, Tennessee Section)
Jim Carter (Scottsdale, Ariz., Southwest PGA Life Member, Southwest Section)
David Hutsell (Lutherville, Md., Baltimore Country Club, Middle Atlantic Section)
Paul Claxton (Claxton, Ga., Richmond Hill Golf Club, Georgia Section)
Gregory Hiller (San Antonio, Texas, TPC San Antonio, Southern Texas Section)
Sean McCarty (Solon, Iowa, Brown Deer Golf Club, Iowa Section)
Brian Smock (Coronado, Calif., Coronado Golf Course, Southern California Section)
Greg Bisconti (South Salem, N.Y., The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club, Metropolitan Section)
Brad Lanning (Hortonville, Wis., Rise Up Golf Consulting LLC, Wisconsin Section)
Brad Lardon (Santa Fe, N.M., The Club at Las Campanas, Sun Country Section)
Scott Hebert (Traverse City, Mich., Traverse City Golf & Country Club, Michigan Section)
Jason Caron (Greenlawn, N.Y., Mill River Club Inc., Metropolitan Section)
Rick Morton (Jacksonville, N.C., Rock Creek Golf & Country Club, Carolinas Section)
Ryan Malby (Kalispell, Mont., Pacific Northwest PGA Life Member, Pacific Northwest Section)
The top eight finishers ー Sowards, Haas, Small, Phillips, Brehaut, Jeffrey Schmid, Mick Smith and Don Berry ー also automatically qualified for next year’s Senior PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore., Sept. 26-29.
For more about the Senior PGA Professional Championship, visit here.
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