Two Philadelphia Section PGA pros, Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster and Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb, will tee it up next spring in a PGA Tour Champions major, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Neither had his best day in the final round of the Senior PGA Professional Championship, presented by GolfAdvisor and Mercedes-Benz USA, Sunday at PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course, but Forster and McNabb easily finished among the top 35 senior club pros from around the country who will be in the field next May at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va. It will be the 12th career PGA Tour Champions major appearance for the 60-year-old Forster.
Forster had an early burst of birdies that briefly had him in the hunt for the title, but fell back and finished with a 1-over-par 73 over the 7,123-yard, par-72 Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla. That left him in a tie for seventh at 8-under 280, five shots back of the winner, Steve Schneiter of Schneiter’s Pebblebrook Golf Course in Utah.
McNabb had a final round of 2-over 74 to finish in a tie for 28th at 2-under 286.
Schneiter, a 53-year-old from Sandy, Utah, capped a final-round 69 by draining a 15-foot, downhill left-to-right slider for par that gave him a 13-under 275 total that was one shot clear of Rick Schuller of Stonehenge Golf & Country Club in Virginia. Schuller’s 4-under 68 Sunday was the best round of the day, but he settled for runnerup honors at 12-under 276.
Schneiter, winner of the 1995 PGA Professional Championship, surged out of the box Sunday with a birdie, eagle, birdie start. He holed a sand wedge from 115 yards out on the par-4 second hole for his eagle. He captured the top prize of $21,500 out of a total purse of $300,000.
Gene Fieger, the former Overbrook Golf Club assistant pro, came up short in his bid to add a second Senior Club Pro title to the one he won in 2013. Fieger carried a two-shot lead into the final round.
The 56-year-old Fieger, an assistant pro at The Club Pelican Bay in Naples, Fla., made a costly double bogey at the 11th, but got back in the hunt with birdies at 12 and 16. He was the only player on the course left with a chance to catch Schneiter, but three-putted the 18th hole for a bogey.
It added up to a 2-over 74 that left him alone in third place at 11-under 277.
“I just didn’t play well today,” Fieger, a product of the old Nether Providence High, told the PGA of America website. “I got a couple of bad breaks in bunkers on par-5s. Nothing really happened.
“I hit a terrible 9-iron into the hazard on 11 and that put me at 3-over on the day. It was a good week, but I just didn’t have it today. And that’s what happens. When you don’t play well, you don’t win.”
Brad Lardon of The Club at Las Campanas in New Mexico, Don Berry of Edinburgh USA Golf Club in Minnesota and Mike Northern, a life member from Colorado Springs, Colo. finished in a tie for fourth at 9-under 279. Lardon had a 2-under 70, Berry an even-par 72 and Northern a 1-over 73 in Sunday’s final round.
Joining Forster in a tie for seventh at 8-under 280 was Gus Ulrich of Pineville Country Club of Pinehurst in North Carolina, who matched par with a 72 in the final round.
Forster began the day at 9-under, four shots back of Fieger, the third-round leader. Forster quickly got to 12-under with birdies at the first, third and fourth holes. He cooled off the rest of the way with bogeys at nine, 14, 16 and 18 around one more birdie at 15, but it was a very strong showing in Forster’s 11th straight appearance in the Senior Club Pro.
Brian Kelly of the Bucknell Golf Club just missed joining Forster and McNabb in the Senior PGA field. Kelly had 1-over 73 in the final round to finish in a tie for 39th at even-par 288. It appears there was a six-for-three playoff for the final three tickets to Trump National among the six players who finished tied for 33rd at 1-under 287.
Terry Hertzog of the Country Club of York had a final-round 78 and finished tied for 56th at 4-over 292.
Stu Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, faltered in the final round with an 83 to finish tied for 71st at 8-over 296. Ingraham, playing in his 27th national PGA of America event, won the Philadelphia Section PGA Senior title this summer at St. Davids Golf Club.