Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster worked his way into contention at the Senior PGA Professional Championship with a 4-under-par 68 in Saturday’s third round at the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course.
The 60-year-old Forster is in a tie for sixth at 9-under 207, four shots back of the lead held by Gene Fieger, who dominated the Philadelphia Section PGA as an assistant pro at Overbrook Golf Club in the 1990s, heading into Sunday’s final round.
Forster is in very good shape to earn another trip to the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. The top 35 finishers in this week’s Senior Club Pro qualify for the 2017 Senior PGA, a PGA Tour Champions major, which will be held at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va. If he makes it to Trump National, Forster would be playing in his 12th PGA Tour Champions major.
Forster, playing in the Senior Club Pro for the 11th straight year, capped an up-and-down outgoing nine over the 7,123-yard, par-72 Wanamaker Course with double bogey at the par-4 ninth to fall back to even-par for his round. But he got cooking on the back nine with birdies at 10, 11, 15 and 16 to surge into contention.
The 56-year-old Fieger, an assistant pro at The Club Pelican in Naples, Fla., fired a 3-under 69 at the Wanamaker Course for a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 that is two shots clear of the field.
Fieger, a product of the old Nether Providence High, won this championship in 2013. He had an up-and-down front nine on the Wanamaker Course Saturday and dropped back to even-par for his round with a bogey at the 12th. But, like Forster, Fieger had a finishing kick with birdies at 13, 15 and 16.
He finished his round with a tremendous par save at the par-4 18th. A poor drive forced him to chip out of a bunker sideways, but he drilled a 9-iron approach from 140 yards out to five feet and rolled in the par putt.
“It’s going to be a shootout (Sunday),” Fieger said.
Jeff Roth of San Juan Country Club ibn New Mexico is alone in second place at 11-under 205 after a 2-under 70.
Mike Northern, a life member from Colorado Springs, Colo., had the day’s best round, a 6-under 66, to move into a tie for third at 10-under 206. He was joined at that figure by Steve Schneiter of Schneiter’s Pebblebrook Golf Course in Utah, who had a 3-under 69 in Saturday’s third round, and Lee Houtteman of Manitou Passage Golf Club in Michigan, who matched par with a 72.
Joining Forster in the group tied for sixth at 9-under 207 are Bill Britton of Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, who fired a 68 Saturday, and Don Berry of Edinburgh USA Golf Club in Minnesota, who posted a 1-under 71.
Of the four other Philadelphia Section pros besides Forster who survived the 36-hole cut, all are in with a shot at making the top 35 and qualifying for next spring’s Senior PGA.
Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb is tied for 33rd at 4-under 212 following a solid 2-under 70. Stu Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, is another shot back in a tie for 40th after also posting a 2-under 70. Ingraham, who his playing in his 27th career national PGA event, qualified for last spring’s Senior PGA at The Club at Harbor Springs in Benton Harbor, Mich. and played all four rounds after surviving the cut.
Terry Hertzog of the Country Club of York is tied for 45th at 2-under 214 after a 1-under 71 Saturday. Brian Kelly of Bucknell Golf Club is tied for 53rd at 1-under 215 after matching par with a 72.