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Walter Hagen Cup The crystal Walter Hagen Cup goes to the winner of the PGA Professional National Championship. (Photo: The PGA of America)

The PGA Professional's Showcase

The PGA Professional National Championship began in 1968, to provide additional playing opportunities for PGA Professionals. Over last four decades, it has become the showcase event for PGA Professionals, featuring some of the finest players in the Association.

The top 20 finishers in the 2008 PGA Professional National Championship earn a coveted spot in the season's final major, the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich.

The rewards are even better for the champion of the PGA Professional National Championship. In addition to having his name inscribed on the crystal Walter Hagen Cup, the winner of the 2008 PGA Professional National Championship will earn a spot on the 2009 United States PGA Cup team and entry into six PGA TOUR events over a 12-month period.

Formerly a 360-player field, the format of the PGA Professional National Championship was converted from 1997-2005 to a nationwide event featuring the finest 156 players at the peak of their games. In 2006, the field was expanded to include 312 players.

Previously, the Championship was contested after the golf season had ended across much of the United States. In 1997, local Sectional PGA Professional Championships were created, along with four new Regional PGA Professional Championships. The National Championship then moved its dates to one month prior to the PGA Championship. Following the 2004 fall season, the Regional PGA Professional Championships were discontinued, focusing more on the Section Championships and National Championship.

The Championship has been conducted in 12 states in the previous 40 years: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

The list of Champions over the past 40 years includes: Sam Snead, Bob Rosburg, Ed Dougherty, Bruce Fleisher and the late Larry Gilbert, the only three-time Champion. Former PGA TOUR professionals Rex Baxter Jr., Don Massengale, Laurie Hammer, Larry Webb, Bob Boyd, Brett Upper, Bruce Zabriski and Mike Small also have won the National Championship.

In 1997, the 30th National Championship was the first to be televised live by GOLF CHANNEL to millions of viewers across the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Malaysia, the Middle East, Scandinavia and Singapore. The 2008 PGA Professional National Championship has a potential audience of 110 million.

The 41st PGA Professional National Championship, to be played at the Reynolds Plantation's acclaimed Great Waters and Reynolds Landings courses in Greensboro, Ga., will feature a field of 312 players who have advanced from the 41 PGA Section Championships, along with past Champions. The final 36 holes of the National Championship will be conducted on one course, featuring a field of the low 70 scorers and ties. The Championship will distribute a total purse of more than $1.65 million, which will be awarded in both the Section and National Championships.