The goal for Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb going into the PGA Professional Championship was simple: Finish in the top 20 and earn a trip to the PGA Championship.
But he almost did that goal one better. He almost won the thing. I’m pretty sure Ed Dougherty is the only Philadelphia Section PGA player to ever win an event that was traditionally known as the National Club Pro. He almost had company Wednesday.
McNabb fired a final round of 3-under 69 over the Sunriver Resort’s tough 7,350-yard, par-72 Crosswater Course Wednesday in Sunriver, Ore. to finish at 4-under 283. He was caught by former PGA Tour pro Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas who has been an almost constant presence near the top of the leaderboard in this event for a while now.
Uresti matched McNabb’s 3-under 69 to also finish at 4-under 283.
McNabb holed a six-foot par putt on the first hole of the playoff to keep his chances alive. But he faced a tough bunker shot on the second playoff hole and blasted it 10 feet past the hole. This time he couldn’t convert the par putt and Oresti dropped his three-footer to complete a nice up-and-down for a par that gave him the Walter Hagen Cup and the top prize of $50,000.
The 51-year-old McNabb began his round six shots out of the lead held by Rod Perry, the head pro at Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club in Port Orange, Fla.
McNabb birdied the second and bogeyed the fourth and still stood at 1-under. Then he started making birdies, one at the seventh, one at the 11th and one at the 13th. When he recorded his fifth birdie of the day at the par-5 15th, he was leading the tournament at 5-under.
He faced a tricky chip shot at the par-4 17th and couldn’t quite clear the rise between him and the putting surface. It resulted in a bogey that left him at 4-under.
Uresti made a pair of clutch birdies at 11 and 16 to get even with McNabb at 4-under.
Still, McNabb earns a trip to the PGA Championship Aug. 10 to 13 at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. And next week he will be in the field for the U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass. It will be the second PGA Tour Champions major he’s played in this year as he was in the field for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship last month at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va.
So, even though Wednesday was the first official day of summer, McNabb’s having a pretty good summer already.
It is the third time in five years that McNabb has made it to the PGA Tour’s final major through the National Club Pro. He made it in 2013, the last time the PGA Professional Championship was held at Sunriver and again in 2014.
One other Philadelphia Section representative made it to the final day at Sunriver, Merion Golf Club’s head of instruction Mark Sheftic, who had contended for the title in that 2013 PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver.
Sheftic had a final-round 75 to finish tied for 51st at 8-over 295.