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Thursday, September 17, 2015

McNabb captures Philadelphia Section PGA crown

   Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb had realized a professional dream when he qualified for the PGA Championship, the last of the four majors on the PGA Tour, in 2013 and 2014.
McNabb spent PGA Championship week this summer playing in the Pennsylvania Open at Rolling Green Golf Club. Not bad, but not the PGA.
   The 49-year-old McNabb will get a shot at a berth in the 2016 PGA Championship when he tees it up in the PGA’s Professional National Championship next summer. He will head to the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y. as the Philadelphia Section PGA champion after beating Steve Swartz of Hummelstown in a playoff Thursday at Concord Country Club.
   McNabb had taken control of the Section championship with a career-best round, a brilliant 8-under 63 at Fieldstone Golf Club in Delaware in Wednesday’s second round. He fell back a little with a final-round 73 at Concord Thursday and Swartz caught him at the end of the regulation 54 holes with a 5-under 66 as they both ended up at 9-under 204.
   Playing in one of the final groups in Day 2 of the event Wednesday at Fieldstone, McNabb birdied the last five holes.
  McNabb had qualified for this year’s PNC, which was held in the Section at Philadelphia Cricket Club, but he just missed the 36-hole cut with a 148 total. But he’s had success in the PNC, so he’ll be ready when he tees it up at the Atunyote and Shenendoah courses at the Turning Stone Resort, which also hosted the event in 2006.
   Radnor Valley head pro George Forster and Stu Ingraham, an instructor at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, will also be headed to the PNC at Turning Stone. Forster was the Section champion a year ago when he defeated Ingraham in a playoff at Llanerch Country Club.
   Forster had steady rounds of 68, 70 and 71 for a 54-hole total of 4-under 209 to finish sixth. The top 12 finishers in the Section championship earned berths in next year’s PNC. Ingraham, who finished in a tie for second in the Pennsylvania Open last month at Rolling Green, had three straight 70s for a 3-under 210 total that left him in a tie for seventh.
   Also in that group was Merion Golf Club head of instruction Mark Sheftic, who had rounds of 70, 69 and 71. Sheftic has advanced to the PGA Championship three times out of the PNC while Ingraham has made the major move to the PGA out of the PNC six times in his career.
  The top 20 finishers in the PNC earn berths in the PGA Championship, which will be held at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Phil Mickelson won the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol. Jack Nicklaus won the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol.
  The 59-year-old Forster and the 55-year-old Ingraham have already earned spots in next month’s PGA Senior Professional National Championship at the Bayonet and Black Horse courses in Seaside, Calif. A high finish there would earn them a trip to the 2016 Senior PGA Championship. Both qualified for the Senior PGA, a Champions Tour major, last year. Forster has played in 10 Champions Tour majors since turning 50.
   John Bierkan, the head of instruction at Aronmink Golf Club, just got in on the number to earn a trip to next year’s PNC. Bierkan had rounds of 72, 69 and 70 for a 2-under 211 total that enabled him to finish in a tie for 10th.
   He was joined at the number by a couple of veteran  Philly Section pros, Dave Quinn and John Pillar.
   John Lynch, who matched Swartz’s final-round 66 Thursday, finished third at 7-under 206.    Spring-Ford Country Club head pro Rich Steinmetz and Gulph Mills Golf Club assistant pro Josh Rackley, who has been the best player in the Section in 2015, finished tied for fourth at 5-under 208.
Steinmetz, who reached that 2005 PGA at Baltusrol out of the PNC, had a final-round 67 and Rackley carded a 68. Rounding out the Philly Section contingent to the PNC is Jakob Gerney, who had a final-round 68 and was in the group tied for seventh along with Ingraham and Sheftic at 3-under 210.
   Overbrook Golf Club pro Eric Kennedy was in the near-miss group at 1-under with rounds of 75, 69 and 68. He is an alternate.
   Aronimink assistant pro Sam Ambrose had rounds of 69, 79 and 77 to finish at 3-over 216. Merion assistant pro Robby Bruns, who finished tied with Rackley for the low-Philly Section finish in the PNC last summer at the Cricket Club, had rounds of 78, 70 and 70 for a 5-over 218 total.

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