Tim Weinhart has qualified for the PGA Championship five times since 2002, but one he missed during that span still stings a bit.
Weinhart will have a chance to considerably lessen that pain if he can finish in the top 20 in this month’s PGA Professional National Championship in Oregon.
Sunriver Resort will host the PGA PNC for the third time June 23-26, with Weinhart competing in both previous events at the facility. He came within a few strokes of advancing to the PGA Championship in 2007, just as he did in New Mexico in 2003, when the PGA Championship was played at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.
Weinhart was born in Rochester, moving with his family to Atlanta at the age of 12, and still has a large number of family members there.
“My mom was one of 10 children and my dad was one of six,” Weinhart said after winning the Georgia PGA’s PNC qualifier late last year. “I have 31 first cousins on my mother’s side. The PGA at Oak Hill is definitely on my radar.”
Weinhart will be one of nine Georgia PGA members competing in the 2013 PGA PNC. The top 20 finishers from a field of 312 will qualify for the 2013 PGA Championship, scheduled Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill.
The Georgia PGA contingent that will play in Oregon is a veteran group, with four of the nine over the age of 50, three of whom have also competed in the PGA Senior Championship.
Brian Dixon is the lone “rookie” among the group, making his first PGA PNC appearance at the age of 45, with Shawn Koch and Bill Murchison the only Georgia PGA qualifiers under the age of 43.
Weinhart, who teaches with the Standard Club-based Nuclear Golf Program, has qualified for the PGA PNC each of the last 14 years, qualifying for the PGA Championship in 2002, ’05, ’06, ‘08 and ’09. He has three finishes of 8th or better in the PNC and contended for a victory in 2009 in New Mexico, while making a run at qualifying for the PGA on four other occasions
Over the last seven years, Weinhart has won the Georgia PGA’s PNC qualifier four times – including last year at the Standard Club — and has captured all four of the Section’s “majors” while also earning Player of Year honors seven times, from 2002-05 and 2009-11.
Craig Stevens, who was the Georgia PGA’s Player of the Year for a third time in 2012 at the age of 52, will be playing in his 16th PNC. He has qualified for the PGA Championship three times, most recently in 2011, making it into the field band the last two times it was played at Atlanta Athletic Club. Stevens, an instructor at Brookstone CC, tied for 2nd in last year’s PNC and has won the event three times, most recently in 2010 at The Manor. Stevens’ best finish in the PNC was a tie for 9th in 2002, with his last top finish in the event coming in 2011, when he tied for 16th.
Stevens qualified for the 2001 PGA Championship by tying for 21st in the PNC at the Sunriver Resort. (The top 25 qualified that year). Stephen Keppler was the second Georgia PGA qualifier for the PGA that year, tying for 12th. Weinhart and Stevens both made the cut in 2007 at the Sunriver Resort, tying for 39th and 52nd respectively. Georgia PGA member Clark Spratlin tied for 22nd, missing a spot in the PGA Championship by just one shot.
Dixon, an instructor at Fox Creek, has been a consistent performer in Georgia PGA events over the years. The last of his two wins in Section points events came in the PNC qualifier in 2000, and he came close to a second win in the tournament last year, tying for 2nd with Stevens, two strokes behind Weinhart.
Sonny Skinner has been the Section’s most successful competitor in the PNC in recent years, placing 2nd in both 2008 at Reynolds Plantation and in 2010 in Indiana. He has qualified for the PNC each of the last six years, but did not play in 2012, competing in a Champions Tour event he was eligible for that week. Skinner, who plays out of River Pointe in Albany, was the Georgia PGA’s Player of the Year in 2006 after a long career playing on the PGA and Web.com Tours.
Skinner won last year’s Georgia PGA Championship at Sea Island GC and was 2nd behind Stevens in the points standings. He tied for 4th in the 2012 PNC qualifier. He was among the Georgia PGA contingent in the 2007 PNC in Oregon and narrowly missed the cut in his first start in the event.
Greg Lee, an assistant at Chicopee Woods, will be playing in the PNC for the eighth time. He came closest to qualifying for the PGA in 2004, when both he and Weinhart missed the top 20 by two strokes. Lee, who tied for 4th in last year’s PNC qualifier, won the event in 2004 and has also won three of the Georgia PGA’s four majors – the Match Play Championship (2007), Section Championship (‘06) and Atlanta Open (’03). Lee qualified for the PNC both times it was played at Sunriver Resort. He was unable to play in 2001 due to an injury, and missed the cut by two strokes in ’07, struggling late in the second round after being in excellent position after 27 holes.
Koch, the Director of Instruction at Country Club of the South, has competed in the PNC three times previously, recording a top-30 finish in 2009 when he missed by three strokes of qualifying for the PGA Championship. Koch tied for 6th in last year’s PNC and has won two of the Georgia PGA’s top four events – the 2008 Match Play Championship and ’06 Atlanta Open.
Gregg Wolff and Tommy Brannen will both be making their 10th career starts in the PNC, with the two Georgia PGA veterans playing in the event for the first time in a while. Wolff, the head professional at Willow Lake in Metter, last played in the PNC in 2005, with Brannen’s most recent appearance in 1999. Brannen, the head professional at Augusta CC, qualified for the PGA Championship twice, and was the last Georgia PGA member to make the cut, tying for 38th in 1988. Wolff qualified for the PGA once.
Brannen, who played in the Senior PGA Championship in May along with Skinner, has won three of the Georgia PGA’s four majors during his career, with Wolff claiming seven Player of the Year titles between 1984 and ’91. Wolff is one of three active Georgia PGA members to have won all four majors, taking the Section Championship three times. Both players tied for 6th in the 2012 Georgia PGA PNC qualifier.
Also tying for 6th was Murchison, the youngest of the Georgia PGA qualifiers at 29. Murchison, an assistant Towne Lake Hills, was initially the first alternate among the Section members for the 2012 PNC, but got a spot in the field when Skinner withdrew to play a Champions Tour tournament.
Murchison took advantage of his opportunity, finishing in the top 10 of last year’s PGA PNC to earn a spot in the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. He made it into the field the first two times as an alternate, but locked up his 2013 spot with his finish last year. He would have been in the PNC field again had he not played so well in it last year thanks to his finish in the Section’s qualifier.
Aided by his top-10 finish in the PNC last year, Murchison made it to the finals of PGA Tour qualifying and has limited status on the Web.com Tour. He has one victory in a Georgia PGA event – the 2011 Berkeley Hills Championship.