The Southern California PGA crowned their 90th Section Champion on September 14th – 16th at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club with PGA Professional Chad Sorensen of Buena Vista Golf Course taking the honors. Sorensen posted rounds of 73 – 68 to secure a three shot victory and be the only player under-par for the two days.
Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club was a fabulous host to the Southern California PGA Professional Championship and served as the perfect test in determining the 2015 Champion. The Max Behr design was established in 1929 and was setup to play at a par 71 and roughly 7,000 yards. The full field of 156 PGA Professionals got a taste of one of the top golf courses in the Section and having some of the purest greens in Southern California along with top notch staff that makeup the treasured Club.
The first round got underway on Monday, September 14th as one of the more decorated players in the Section took the early lead. Michael Block lead the way after the first round posting a 2-under 69 followed by Barry Mahlberg’s 70. Block was winner of the 2014 PGA Professional Championship and put himself in prime position to claim his first Section Championship.
The second round became dicey as the rain moved in and began falling early in the round. As the rains continued, and conditions worsened, play was suspended. During the two hour suspension, the course conditions continued to degrade and became unplayable due to standing water and heavy rains resulting in a devastating cancellation of the second round. The rain stricken second round lead to an 18-hole cut and reduced the Championship to 36-holes, with the cut being the top 60 and ties.
Sorensen was four shots back coming into the final round and knew it would take red numbers to carve away at the lead, which he did carding four birdies and one bogey chasing down the leaders en route to posting his three under round of 68. Michael Block maintained the lead throughout the front nine and stood on the 12th tee with a three shot lead, but it slipped away on a tough four hole stretch. Sorensen remained steady to take over the leaderboard and remain positioned in the lead till the final putt dropped.
The champion Sorensen’s 68 in the final round was the low round of the tournament and set him apart from the field. Sorensen also earns an exemption into the 2016 CareerBuilders Challenge PGA TOUR event hosted in La Quinta, CA with this win.
Sorensen stated “this is the greatest win, because in this event you are competing against the best of the best in your Section. I’ve wanted this one so badly.”
Three players tied for second place at 144, three shots behind Sorensen. Mark Madson of Lakeside Golf Club, Scott Heyn of Oakmont Country Club and Matt Gibbens of Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
The Section Championship also serves as the PGA Professional Championship qualifier where the top 12 finishers earned a spot into the National tournament. The following 12 PGA Professionals will represent the SCPGA next year in New York: Chad Sorensen, Mark Madson, Scott Heyn, Matt Gibbens, Pete LaCoursiere, Blair Harkins, Don Littrell, Gary Sowinski, Jeff Munak, Chris Starkjohann, Eric Evans and Barry Mahlberg. In additional, the following players are previously exempt into the National tournament: Michael Block, Austin Peters and Ryan Kennedy. Best of luck to all of the Professionals in the PGA Professional Championship in 2016.
The coveted Championship features the top PGA Professionals in Southern California with a field of 156 players in this year’s event. The 54-hole Championship was shortened this year due to a rainout in the Second Round. The 18-hole cut was 60 and ties playing in the final round.
A very big Thank You goes to the host facility, Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. PGA Director of Golf Derek Lane and CCM General Manager Al Castro were instrumental in the success of the Championship. Thank you to their entire staff and the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club membershipfor being some welcoming and for opening their doors. A big thank you goes to CGCS Course Superintendent Tim Barrier and his entire crew. The conditions were fantastic and to recover from the downpour of rain that occurred, making the course playable in such a short turnaround was quite impressive. Kudos to all the personal that make up Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
Thank you to all the sponsors that make the Section Championship! National Sponsors Mercedes-Benz, Club Car and OMEGA; Supported by PGA TOUR, TaylorMade, Nike and Titleistand donated product by Pepsi. Their continued support is essential to the success of the SCPGAChampionships.
Finally, a thank you goes to all of the individuals that dedicated their time in assisting. The Rules Officials play a large role and they receive all the praise: Ron O’Connor, PGA, Gary Albin, Gary Wilson, Lee Wortman, Keith Reinking and John Cochran. Thank you to those who served as announcers on the tee and making the event have a special feel for the field: John McNair, PGA, Todd Keefer, PGA, Robin Shelton, PGA, Tony Letendre, PGA and Steve Frank from the SCGA. Thank you to Walt Willows, PGA, for his great penmanship in making the scoreboards look fantastic!
The 2016 Southern California PGA Professional Championship will be held at TPC Valencia on September 12-14.