In a closely contested final round that came down to the back nine on Sunday, Frank Bensel of Purchase, N.Y., separated himself from the field with a final-round 3-under par-69 and 277 total to claim the 34th Callaway Golf PGA Assistant Championship title, edging Travis Deibert of Jamison, Pa., by two strokes at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Adam Rainaud of South Hadley, Mass., and Dan Flynn of Midland, Mich., finished in a tie for third.
Bensel, who owned a one-shot lead heading into the final round, quickly was tied when Rainaud opened with a birdie.
"Adam [Rainaud] came out strong with birdies on the first two holes," said Bensel, who was competing in his fourth PGA Assistant Championship."I knew I had a fight and tough battle on my hands after that happened."
Bensel was able to answer with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, and the Championship was tied after nine holes.
"We both made birdies on the front and it was tight heading into the final nine holes," said Bensel, PGA assistant professional at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y. "My ball striking got a little better as the round got older."
The Championship veteran was able to take the lead for good after a birdie at the par-4 12th.
"I made a few clutch birdies coming in and was able to get out in front after 12," said Bensel, who also took home a $9,000 first-place check. "It really was tight the whole was and this Championship shows that there are really strong players from all around the country."
Bensel, 42, was thrilled to win his first National Championship.
"I putted well all week and that was the difference," said Bensel. "This feels great and to have my family here to see it makes it even more special."
Deibert, a PGA apprentice at Commonwealth National Golf Club in Horsham, Pa., trailed Bensel by three strokes entering the final round and closed with 68, his lowest round of the Championship.
"I made a good run with some birdies, but couldn't get really close in the end," said Deibert, who was competing in just his second PGA Assistant Championship. "I played well all week, but Frank [Bensel] played great and is one tough player."
Rainaud, a PGA apprentice at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., closed with a 71, while Dan Flynn, a PGA assistant professional at Midland (Mich.) Country Club, finished with a 68.
Karen Paolozzi, a PGA apprentice at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., and one of only two women competing in the Championship, had the lowest finish by a woman in the history of the Championship, a tie for 10th place. She used a final-round 72 to break the previous record held by Julie Peluso of Port St. Lucie, Fla., who accomplished the feat in 2008, finishing in a tie for 52nd.
"I am really happy with how well I played this week and know I can play better," said Paolozzi, who was competing in just her first PGA Assistant Championship. "I have something I can build on for future years. I know I can play with this type of strong competition."
Jennifer Heinz, a PGA assistant professional at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., shot a final-round 72 and finished in a tie for 33rd.
Following the second round, the field was reduced to the low 70 scorers and ties, with 71 players making the cut at 5-over-par 149.
The Championship featured 126 PGA assistant professionals and apprentices. The format was changed in 2010 to include the top-4 finishers from last year's Championship as well as 122 players who advanced through their Section Championship. The total Championship purse was $100,000.
Also a stake, provided the Champion meets eligibility requirements, is a coveted spot in the 44th PGA Professional National Championship, June 26-29, 2011, at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.
Callaway Golf has returned as the title sponsor for the second consecutive year.
The PGA Assistant Championship continues a tradition of excellence in bringing together some of the most talented players in The PGA of America as well as being models of the caliber of members who make up the world's largest working sports organization. Past champions include past Ryder Cup Team members Fred Funk and Loren Roberts, and past PGA Professional National Champions Darrell Kestner, Tim Thelen and Bruce Zabriski.