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Could we have seen it coming? Maybe it was inevitable? Given the crowded and talented leaderboard, why should 72 holes be enough?
In the end it wasn’t.
Additional golf was required. Just enough to set the stage for an old-fashioned putting competition where the Senior PGA Professional Championship is at stake.
For Paul Claxton, a PGA Life member from (coincidentally) Claxton, Georgia, 73 holes was just enough golf for his putter to regain the magic he lost on Saturday.
Claxton parried twice the increasingly difficult 18th hole of the Wanamaker on Sunday, once usually to crown a final, 2 under 70 and again 20 minutes later in a playoff for the Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac in 2021 over Mark Mielke. to be won at the PGA Golf Club.
“I haven’t played much this year, we’ve all been so busy at work,” said Claxton. “I came here with no expectations. I was just happy to have a week off from work and things just worked out. I played well, made lots of good shots, and had a great putting day (Saturday).
“Today I just persevered.”
Claxton, who works at Richmond Hill Golf Club in Richmond Hill, Georgia, stepped down in third place with a tie one or two on Sunday. He had work to do and make up ground.
Mielke led most of the day. His birdie on the 6th par-3 gave him a one-shot advantage that lasted up to a five-minute sequence on the back 9 when he bogeyed 14 and Claxton No. Made 15 birdie.
This is how Claxton has its first lead in the championship.
But not for long, it was Mielke’s turn at 15 and also grabbed the lead to regain part of the lead.
As a self-employed PGA teaching professional from Atlantis, Florida, Mielke jumped back to the top of the list with a birdie on the 16th, his first of the week at the Wanamaker Final Par 5.
In the penultimate group, Claxton played with his birdie bid from 12 to 18 only just off the mark and set the stage for Mielke to win with his own par on the 72nd hole.
This plan went wrong when Mielke drove into a bunker on the left on the 18th shot. Once hung up, his third shot did not reach the top level of the 18th green, where the hole was cut back at its most difficult point.
The ensuing 2-putt bogey crowned a final, one under 71, leaving him with Claxton and nearly Mike Small, whose 8-foot birdie slid to 18 (and a playoff spot) to the right. under the cup.
Small, the men’s head golf coach at the University of Illinois, finished third with 275 solo. Alan Morin, Assistant Golf Professional at The Club at Ibis, and Bob Sowards, Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club, took a total of 276 days to finish T-4.
“I hadn’t looked at the scoreboard all day,” said Claxton. “I had chances all day and just never made a putt. Then I had my last chance at 18 (usually) and I hit a pretty good putt, just not with enough break. “
On the extra hole, both players put their drives into the fairway and hit approach shots within 3 feet of each other, one level and 9 meters below the hole. Their third strokes had some similarities, with both putts coming to rest 6 feet from the hole, one on each side.
Twelve feet of green real estate would win the championship, but there was one fundamental difference.
“(Mielke) had a slightly harder putt than me,” explained Claxton. “It had a ‘left to right’ descent and mine was uphill, right to left. I would have much rather had my putt than his. “
After a rules officer stepped in to determine which player was absent, Claxton stepped forward all day like on Saturday, confidently doing his 6-footed that left little doubt as he split the middle of the cup.
Mielke tried to answer, but couldn’t. His putt dived under the hole for his second bogey of the day on the 18th, a hole he will not soon forget.
“I played with (Mielke) on (Saturday) and he played and putted so well that I expected him to make it,” said Claxton, who is on his way to on his last 30 holes, including the playoffs played four bogey-free golf – daily record of 274.
Round three leader Rob Labritz, the PGA Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, New York, started slowly with three bogeys at the top 9, but couldn’t the swing he won on Saturday’s 66 take along. Its 75th in the last lap took sixth place.
Defending champion Omar Uresti made the late advance and finished seventh thanks to a 67 on Sunday.
Claxton secured the Leo Fraser Trophy, named after the 16th, plus Mielke, Small, Sowards and Morin.
Claxton will lead a contingent of 35 Senior PGA Club Professionals into the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship 2022, taking place May 26-29 at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He is supported by Mielke, Small, Sowards, Morin, Labritz, Uresti, Chad Sorensen, Walt Chapman, Jimmy Farrell Jr., Neal Lancaster, Tracy Phillips, Ray Franz Jr., Tim Fleming, Dave McNabb, Larry George, Eric Chiles, Del Ponchock, Michael Crowley, Mike Genovese, Micah Rudosky, Frank Esposito Jr., Tim Cantwell, Jim Empey, Dave Bahr, Mike San Filippo, Jonathan Mansfield, Kelly Mitchum, Don Winter, Doug Rohrbaugh, Chad Proehl, Roy Biancalana, Jim Carter , Jeff Roth and Micahel Valicenti.
The top eight winners – Claxton, Mielke, Small, Morin, Labritz, Uresti, Sorensen – automatically qualified for next year’s Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Twin Warriors Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa and the Santa Ana Golf Club, both in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, Jan. October 2022.
The PGA Golf Club – the PGA of America’s premier 54-hole course – hosts several PGA membership championships annually, including the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, the Senior PGA Professional Championship (biennially), and the PGA’s Tournament Series and Winter Championships .