Three Georgians qualified for the 2016 Senior PGA Championship by finishing among the top 35 in the recent PGA Senior Professional National Championship, played at the Bayonet and Black Horse courses in Seaside, Calif.
James Mason, who was second in the Senior PNC last year, tied for 11th at 4-under 284 after sharing the 36-hole lead with scores of 68-69—137. Mason, a long-time member of the Champions Tour, was one shot out of the lead in second place after a third round 71, but shot 76 the final day to finish seven behind the winner.
Also qualifying was Clark Spratlin, in his first year of senior eligibility. Spratlin, the Director of Golf at Currahee Club, shot 70-73-71-73—287 and tied for 21st at 287. Sonny Skinner, a regular in the Senior PGA Championship in recent years, tied for 28th at 288 with scores of 73-69-74-72. Skinner got off to a rocky start in the final round, but carded four birdies over his last 11 holes to qualify with one shot to spare.
Stephen Keppler, Craig Stevens and Russ Davis all missed the 36-hole by just one shot, with all three posting scores of 146. Mark Anderson missed the cut by three at 148, with Charlie King, Scott Hare and Glen Herrell also failing to make it past the second round.
Mason had chance to lead after 54 holes, but a double bogey on the 16th hole prevented him from taking the lead going to the final round. Mason was still in position for a top-3 finish midway through the fourth round, but three consecutive bogeys on the back nine knocked him out of the top 10.
Spratlin also had a shot a top-10 finish before making three bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine, offsetting a pair of birdies in that stretch.
Both Skinner and Mason competed in the finals of Champions Tour qualifying for 2016, but neither finished high enough to earn status for next year.
Skinner shot three rounds in the 60s at TPC Scottsdale (Az.), but finished tied for 30th at 8-under 276. The top five finishers are exempt for 2016 and the next seven have limited status. Mason, a former Champions Tour winner, shot 65 in the second round, but was 7-over in his other three rounds and finished well back in the field.
Griffin, Paolozzi in top 20 in national event
J.P. Griffin of Cherokee Town & Country and Karen Paolozzi of Druid Hills Golf Club both posted top 20 finishes in the 2015 PGA Assistants Championship, played at PGA GC in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Griffin shot a final round 65 that included stretches of four straight birdies on his first nine and three straight on his second. That matched the low score of the day and gave him a 7-under 281 total and a tie for 14th.
Paolozzi, making her second straight appearance in the event, shot 69-73-73-67 to tie for 17th at 282. Brent Whitehead of Capital City Club and Chris Cartwright of West Pines both qualified for the tournament but failed to make the 36-hole cut.
Williams, Anderson capture Pro-Pro title
Josh Williams of Savannah Golf Club and Mark Anderson of Brunswick Country Club teamed up to win the Georgia PGA Pro-Pro Championship, played on the Seaside and Plantation courses at Sea Island Golf Club shortly after the club hosted the PGA Tour RSM Classic.
Williams, one of the Georgia PGA’s biggest hitters, and Anderson, the 2015 GPGA Match Play champion, shot a second-round 56 on the Seaside course for a 22-under 142 total to win the event by five strokes. The two players had 14 birdies on the par-70 layout, beginning their round with nine birdies on their first 10 holes and finishing with birdies on five of the last six.
The tournament was played under the modified scramble format (shamble), with each player playing his own ball after the team selected the best tee shot. The 56 on Seaside was the low score on the course that day by eight shots.
Jordan Arnold of Achasta GC and Chris Nicol of Georgia Golf Center placed second at 125, closing with a 10-under 62 on Plantation. Michael Ferguson of Ocean Forest and Brandon Youmans of Sea Island GC were third at 126, also shooting a second round 62 on Plantation.
Finishing fourth at 127 with a final round 62 on Plantation were Bill Hassell and Scott Hamilton, both of Cartersville CC. Hamilton is one of the most successful coaches among PGA Tour players, with his current list of students including Chris Kirk, Russell Henley, Harris English, Brendon Todd, Boo Weekley and Steven Bowditch.
Tying for fifth at 128 were Luke James of Royal Lakes and Justin Martin of Alpharetta Athletic Club East, Craig Stevens of Brookstone G&CC and Jared Davis of Kinderlou Forest, Chip Zimmerman of Cuscowilla and Michael Parrott of Brookfield CC, Ryan McNeil and Ryan Rios of Reynolds Plantation, and Jared Walahoski and Jeff Cammon of Sea Island GC.
Tying for 10th at 130 were Alex Sutton and Craig Forney of the River Club, and Cory Cooper and Brent Whitehead of Capital City Club, who shot 61 the second day on Plantation.
The Senior Division winners were Phil Wagoner of River Pines and Bob Burk of Stone Creek in Valdosta, who shot 64-64—128. They won by one over DeWitt Weaver of the Legends at Chateau Elan and Gregg Wolff of Willow Creek in Metter, and Chris Murman of Houston Lake and Sonny Skinner of River Pointe. Weaver and Wolff shot 62 the second day on Seaside, with Murman and Skinner opening with a 61 on Plantation.
Tying for fourth at 130 were Danny Elkins of Georgia Golf Center and Rodger Hogan of Chattahoochee GC, and John Fesperman of Taylors Creek and Robby Watson of Bartram Trail.
Spratlin wins Senior Tour Championship
Clark Spratlin won the season-ending Georgia PGA Senior Division Championship recently at the Legends at Chateau Elan, finishing at 1-under 143 with scores of 71-72. Spratlin, the Director of Golf at Currahee Club, finished three ahead of James Mason, who shot 77-69—146.
Sonny Skinner was third at 147, with Rusty Strawn and Scotty Scott tying for fifth at 151 and sharing low amateur honors.
Craig Stevens won a late-season Senior Division event at Chicopee Woods with a 70, one ahead of amateurs Strawn and Larry Vaughn. Amateur Mel Mendenhall won the annual Red Dobbins Memorial event at Mystery Valley with a 67, three in front of Strawn, fellow amateur Brian Slezak, Rodger Hogan and Scott Hare of Collins Hill GC.