By John Kim and T.J. Auclair, PGA.com
HERSHEY, Pa. -- There were a lot of great redemption stories in the final round of the 44th PGA Professional National Championship, but few were better than that of Jeff Sorenson.
Sorenson, a PGA Teaching Professional at Columbia Country Club in Minneapolis, Minn., suffered a cruel fate at French Lick in 2010.
A 79 in the final round last year left Sorenson one-shot out of the top 20 -- and the PGA Championship. As if that weren't disappointing enough, Sorenson had to hang around for a playoff for a potential alternate spot.
"That wasn't much fun," he admitted.
This time around, Sorenson didn't need to worry about a playoff for an alternate spot. With a 1-under 70 in the final round, Sorenson got to 6-under 279 to tie for eighth and will head to Atlanta Athletic Club in August to compete in his first PGA Championship.
"I came here to Hershey on a little bit of a mission because of what happened last year," Sorenson said. "The first two days I was on course and then I got a little off course with a 76 in the third round. Maybe I was just a little uncommitted to shots and stuff like that. I got a little wishy-washy and was hoping instead of doing. Today I really stuck with staying in the moment and trying to grind it out."
Sorenson was happy with his work at Hershey and satisfied with the fact that he made it far less interesting than French Lick.
"This is total relief and just a way better feeling than last year," he said.
'BRING IT HOME:' Brian Cairns is 47 years old. Before this week in Hershey, he knew that his chances of ever competing in a PGA Championship were running low.
That's why he set a lofty goal for the week -- finish in the top five. This goal was particularly lofty due to the fact that in five previous PPNC starts, Cairns's best finish was a tie for 35th. And that was way back in 2001.
In the end, Cairns fell just short of his goal. At 4-under 281, the PGA Teaching Professional from Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center in Plymouth, Mich., finished in 11th place.
While it wasn't a top five, it was pretty difficult for Cairns to be upset. His effort was enough to earn him a spot in his very first PGA Championship.
"I finally got over the edge," Cairns said. "It's great knowing you can trust your swing. I felt like I could hit it anywhere out there."
Cairns said the turning point in the final round came when he made birdie on the 13th hole to get to 4 under.
"When I birdied No. 13, I thought, 'You know what? I've got the shots to bring this home,'" he said.
As it turned out, he snatched another birdie at No. 15 for some insurance. A bogey at No. 18 didn't matter.
"The big goal was to make it to Atlanta and I made it to Atlanta," he said.A TOUGH FINAL ROUND:
Jeff Martin, PGA Teaching Professional at Point Judith Country Club in Narragansett, R.I., began the final round of the PPNC on Wednesday in a tie for 12th and in good shape for a third appearance in the PGA Championship.
Hopes of making it to his third PGA Championship in August quickly faded. The start to the round was promising for the 37-year-old; he was 1 under for the day through three holes, thanks to a birdie at the par-3 second hole.
But, disaster was lurking. A bogey on No. 4, followed by a double-bogey on No. 5 and a bogey at No. 9 had Martin out in 4-over 40.
And it didn't get much better on the back nine.
Martin picked up a double-bogey on the par-4 15th and wound up with a 7-over 78 to tie for 37th at 2-over 287.
The happy-go-lucky Martin rarely isn't smiling on the golf course. He picked up his young daughter Brooke after he signed his card and quipped, "Daddy stunk today!"A GREAT BOGEY:
It's not often a score of bogey -- particularly on a par 5 -- can be described as "great."
However, that's the only way to describe the adventurous bogey made by Frank Bensel on the 450-yard, par-4 14th hole.
Bensel, a 43-year-old PGA Assistant Professional at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., split the fairway at No. 14 with a perfect tee shot.
From there, things got interesting.
Using a fairway wood and attempting to reach the green in two, Bensel hit a big pull that sailed so far left of the fairway it went through a set of trees and presumably out of play.
Bensel announced he'd be hitting a provisional and proceeded to hit a nearly identical shot. Hitting a second provisional with the fairway wood, Bensel hit another pull, but this one stayed in play.
After a short search, Bensel found his initial shot nestled in the rough behind a wall of trees and shrubs, punched out backwards, flopped a shot onto the green and two-putted for a hard-fought bogey.
When a bogey is one of the highlights of a round, things aren't going so well. Bensel shot a 6-over 77 and tied for 52nd.A GOOD SUPPORTER TO HAVE:
The President of the PGA America, Allen Wronowski, takes great pride in representing all 27,000 men and women professionals that make up the PGA. If you see him at an association event, it seems like he knows most of them.
And though Wronowski is thrilled by the performance of all the PGA Professionals playing in the PGA Professional National Championship, no one can begrudge him a little extra smile at the performance of champion David Hutsell, the PGA Director of Instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md.
Hutsell is a fellow member of the Middle Atlantic PGA Section, a good friend and works alongside Wronowski's stepson, PGA Professional Rob Chase at Elkridge.
"David exemplifies the core values of the PGA; teaching, playing and promoting the game," beamed Wronowski. "He makes sure everyone's experience at his club is the best possible. He's the kind of guy that's easy to root for, to hope good things for. And obviously, he's a heck of a player."
CAPTAIN LIKES WHAT SEES FOR PGA CUP:
Jim Remy, honorary PGA president and captain of the PGA Cup team (the Ryder Cup for PGA Club Professionals from the United States against Club Professionals from Great Britain & Ireland), can't help but grin when he assesses the United States team he'll be leading later this year.
"We have an outstanding team headed to CordeValle Resort," said Remy confidently. "I feel really strong that we'll be in great position to defend the Cup we won at Loch Lomond."
Remy was particularly pleased at the depth of talent in contention for the team.
"The players that we know are on the team, the eight that are solidified, are so strong, so gifted," Remy beamed as he looked over the points standings for team qualification. "Danny Balin, two fourth place finishes in the last two PGA Professional National Championships, Mike Small we all know his playing record, this is a great and deep team."
The final two positions for the United States team will be determined after the PGA Championship via a points system and the PGA Cup will be played September 16-18 at CordeValle Resort and Spa near Monterey, Calif.