No Small Feat
Illinois’ Mike Small headlines the list of 20 PGA Club Professionals playing this week at Whistling Straits
By Tony L. Starks
Mike Small, only the third back-to-back winner of the PGA Professional National Championship, poses with the Walter Hagen Cup. Small is appearing in his sixth PGA Championship.
In addition to Small, the group of 20 PGA Club Professionals living their dream this week includes 2008 PGA Professional Player of the Year Sonny Skinner of Albany, Ga., 2008 National Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Mich., 2007 National Champion Chip Sullivan of Troutville, Va., and three-time Philadelphia PGA Section Player of the Year Stu Ingraham of Harrisburg, Pa. QUALIFYING TO COMPETE IN THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP IS A accomplishment in its own right, but the style with which Mike Small secured his spot in the 156-player field is not likely to be repeated for some time.
In the 43rd playing of the PGA Professional National Championship earlier this summer at French Lick (Ind.) Resort, Small became only the third man in history to win the event back-to-back – joining Roger Watson in 1974-75 and Larry Gilbert in 1981-82. Small’s victory also made him just the second three-time PGA Professional National Champion in history, matching Gilbert’s trio of Walter Hagen Cups – named for the five-time PGA Champion, the Walter Hagen Cup is awarded to the PGA Professional National Champion. Small reached this milestone in record-setting fashion, as his third-round 65 was a course record on French Lick’s Pete Dye Course.
“It’s pretty cool to be one of two people
to have won (the PGA
Championship) three times,” says
Small, 44, the head men’s golf
coach at the University of Illinois.
“I’ve probably played 60 PGA
Tour events in my life, and
probably wasn’t good enough to
play those at that time.”
Small will get another chance to
test his game against the best
players from tours across the globe
in this week’s PGA Championship
– an event that annually attracts
the strongest field in golf.
“Twenty PGA Club Professionals are competing in this week’s PGA Championship, some for the first time,” says PGA President Jim Remy. “Consider the job of being a PGA Professional: These guys spend the vast majority of their time wearing so many hats that make golf dreams happen for others – and now, they will be fulfilling a dream of their own.”
MONTANA PRITCHARD/ THE PGA OF AMERICA
The low 20 finishers in the PGA Professional National Championship annually qualify for the PGA Championship. The following 20 PGA Club Professionals qualified to compete in the 92nd PGA Championship: • Danny Balin, Greenwich, Conn.
• Ryan Benzel, Bothell, Wash.
• Kyle Flinton, Oklahoma City, Okla.
• Scott Hebert, Traverse City, Mich.
• David Hutsell, Baltimore, Md.
• Stu Ingraham, Harrisburg, Pa.
• Rob Labritz, Pound Ridge, N. Y.
• Mitch Lowe, San Francisco, Calif.
• Robert McClellan, Butler, Pa.
• Rob Moss, Broadview Heights, Ohio • Keith Ohr, Louisville, Ky.
• Troy Pare, Wauregan, Conn.
• Jason Schmuhl, Windsor, Calif.
• Mark Sheftic, Blue Bell, Pa.
• Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga.
• Mike Small, Champaign, Ill.
• Bruce Smith, Frisco, Texas • Rich Steinmetz, Gilbertsville, Pa.
• Chip Sullivan, Troutville, Va.
• Tim Thelen, College Station, Texas
“I’m 50 years old and this is my sixth
PGA Championship,” says Ingraham. “It
feels good. I didn’t know what to expect (at
French Lick). I knew it was a hard course,
but I hung in there and I’m very happy to be
going back to a major championship.”
Small is also competing in his sixth PGA
Championship. His best finish came at
Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.,
in 2007, where he claimed the honor of Low
Club Professional and was recognized on the
18th green alongside 2007 PGA Champion
One of Small’s Fighting Illini golfers, Scott Langley, finished tied for 16th in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Small is hoping to replicate his pupil’s strong play at this week’s PGA Championship. ●
148 THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM OF THE 2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP