It’s a Small World
Mike Small leads a contingent of 20 PGA Professionals competing in this week’s PGA Championship
By Tony L. Starks
PGA Professional National Champion Mike Small has made the cut in two of his past three PGA Championship appearances. He was the Low Club Professional at the 2007 PGA Championship.
Small, who led the Illinois men’s golf program to its first Big Ten title in 21 years and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the second straight season and the fourth time in the last eight years, has made the cut in two of his past three PGA Championship appearances (2005, ’07). ● IT’S NOT EVERYDAY THAT PGA PROFESSIONALS ARE PRESENTED THE chance to showcase their playing ability on a nationally televised stage, but the 42nd PGA Professional National Championship, which aired on Golf Channel June 28 – July 1, gave them just that opportunity.
And for the top 20 finishers, they’ll be getting that opportunity again at
this week’s PGA Championship here at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Leading the way for this select group of
PGA Professionals is 2009 National
Champion Mike Small, the head men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois and 2009
Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year. A two-time winner of the PGA Professional National Championship, the 43-year-old
Small will be making a run at “The Season’s
Final Major ... Glory’s Last Shot” for the fifth time in the past six years.
Joining him will be 2008 National
Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City,
Mich., and Chris Starkjohann, 53, of
Encinitas, Calif., who earlier this year finished tied for fifth at the Senior PGA
Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio.
Both Hebert and Starkjohann qualified for the season’s final major by way of an eight-man playoff resulting in Mike Miles, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Mitch Lowe, Modesto, Calif.; and Kevin Roman, Roswell, Ga.; along with Hebert and Starkjohann securing the remaining five spots in the 91st PGA Championship.
“As I watched the playoff the tension,
determination and pressure on these
players’ faces was as intense as you might
find at any major championship in golf,”
says PGA of America President Jim Remy.
“I offer my sincerest congratulations to the
20 guys who are competing this week at
MONTANA PRITCHARD/ THE PGA OF AMERICA
The following 20 PGA Professionals are scheduled to compete in the 91st PGA Championship:
• Sam Arnold, Cincinnati, Ohio
• Ryan Benzel, Bothell, Wash.
• Greg Bisconti, South Salem, N. Y.
• Keith Dicciani, White Plains, N. Y.
• Brian Gaffney, Rumson, N.J.
• Robert Gaus, St. Louis, Mo.
• Scott Hebert, Traverse City, Mich.
• Todd Lancaster, Aurora, Ohio
• Eric Lippert, Marina, Calif.
• Mitch Lowe, Modesto, Calif.
Participating PGA Professionals
• Mike Miles, Huntington Beach, Calif.
• Lee Rinker, Jupiter, Fla.
• Kevin Roman, Roswell, Ga.
• Steve Schneiter, Sandy, Utah
• Mark Sheftic, Ambler, Pa.
• Mike Small, Champaign, Ill.
• Chris Starkjohann, Encinitas, Calif.
• Grant Sturgeon, Pittsburgh, Pa.
• Craig Thomas, White Plains, N. Y.
• Tim Weinhart, Alpharetta, Ga.
Tony L. Starks is PGA Magazine’s editorial assistant.