Stu Ingraham had never gone south to play in the PGA of America’s Winter Championships, preferring to stay in shape in the golf offseason by refereeing basketball games in the area.
But coming off what he called his best year in golf in a long and successful playing career, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square started off 2017 in a winning way, capturing the 64-and-under title in the Quarter Century Championship, presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport at the PGA Golf Club’s Ryder Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla. this week.
The 56-year-old Ingraham fired a sizzling opening-round 64 at the Ryder Course in Wednesday’s opening round and then parred the second hole of a playoff Thursday to defeat Mike San Filippo of Hobe Sound, Fla. after they finished tied after the regulation 36 holes at 9-under 135. Ingraham posted a second-round 71 on his way to claiming the top prize of $3,350.
“I’ve played in 26 national championships and 10 majors, but I’ve never come to the Winter Series,” Ingraham told the PGA of America website. “I made the decision to come this year. It turned out to be quite the investment.”
By my count, it’s actually 27 national championships, counting the Senior PGA Professional Championship Ingraham teed it up in in November. But I'll go with Stu's math. He actually faltered a little on the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course in the final three rounds of the Senior Club Pro, but he opened up with a 2-under 70 on the Ryder Course, so that layout obviously fits his eye.
In Wednesday’s opening round, Ingraham, who has been the Philadelphia Section PGA's Robert "Skee" Riegel Senior Player of the Year for seven straight years, made four straight birdies from the second to the fifth holes and then added birdies on 10, 13, 14 and 17 on the Ryder Course. He took advantage of the par-5s, making birdies at three of the four 5s, the fourth, 13th and 17th holes. In Thursday’s second round, he birdied two, bogeyed seven, birdied 10 and 12 and bogeyed the 17th.
Ingraham had a three-shot lead on San Filippo with two holes to play, but the bogey at 17 and birdies by San Filippo at 17 and 18 forced the playoff. A three-putt by San Filippo resulted in a bogey on the second hole of the playoff, making Ingraham the winner.
An interesting name in the 64-and-under division was that of Charlie Bolling, the 1978 Philadelphia Amateur and 1980 Pennsylvania Amateur champion who finished tied for 18th with rounds of 69 and 74 for a 1-under 143 total. The 59-year-old Bolling, a Haverford School product who was an All-American at Duke, lists Glen Cove, N.Y. as his home base these days.
Jerry Tucker of Plant City, Fla. won the 65-and-older division with a 9-under 135 total. Tucker fired an 8-under 64 on the Wanamaker Course in Wednesday’s opening round and added a 1-under 71 in Thursday’s second round.
Tucker finished a shot better than Roy Vucinich, a Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Hall of Famer who had a pair of 68s for an 8-under 136 total.
Another interesting name on the 65-and-older leaderboard was that of Peter Oakley, the longtime Delaware professional who won the 2004 Senior British Open title. The 67-year-old Oakley added a 71 to his opening-round 68 to finish tied for fourth at 4-under 139.
Bob Joyce of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. captured top honors in the Half Century Championship for players who have been PGA of America members for at least 50 years. Joyce added a second-round 74 to his opening-round 77 on the Wanamaker Course for a 7-over 151 total. Bob Zimmerman (82-71) and Lynn Rosely (77-76), both of Port St. Lucie, Fla., were tied for second, two shots back of Joyce at 153.