PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Danny Balin of Rockville, Md., opened his bid for Player of the Year among the PGA of America's 27,000 club professionals in 2012 by winning the 59th annual PGA Stroke Play Championship, Feb. 2, at the PGA Golf Club.
An assistant professional at Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn., Balin, 29, went from three down after 54 holes to win by three on the Wanamaker Course with a closing round of 67 for 276.
"That's my goal this year," Balin said. "I want to win PGA Professional Player of the Year. I finished fourth last year," after winning a PGA Tournament Series event for the first time in December at the nearby PGA Country Club.
The PGA Stroke Play Championship was the fifth and oldest of six tournaments that comprise the PGA Winter National Championships. Presenting sponsors are the Premier Golf, United Rentals, and Hospital for Special Surgery. Supporting sponsors are DryRainge, Golf Pride and Jacobson.
Balin chased down Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, who was never out of the lead the first three days on rounds of 68-70-68. Sowards finished with 73 for 279 to take second. "Without any wind, the course played as easy as it ever can," said Sowards, a two-time former champion. "I just couldn't take advantage."
Sowards could have become the first player to win the Stroke Play three times, his earlier titles coming in 2005-06. Other two-time champions were John Barnum, 1963-64; Gene Borek, 1970 and 1973; and Bob Ford, 1988 and 1993. Barnum and Borek are deceased.
Left-hander Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., was third with 66-283. "I knew I didn't have a chance, no matter what I shot today," Perry said. "I played with Danny and Bob yesterday and they were both playing too good." Perry had 77 the third round and climbed from 17th to third on Thursday.
Sowards and Perry were among four who opened with 68. Sowards was the only one to play the Wanamaker. The others were on the adjacent Ryder Course, generally considered the easier of the two. Balin also started on the Ryder.
Balin didn't make a bogey until the last two holes, which he played cautiously to protect his four-stroke advantage. He caught Sowards at 9-under-par with a birdie at the fifth hole, then was handed the lead when Sowards bogeyed sixth and never trailed the rest of the day.
"I played solid, hit 16 greens and didn't make any mistakes," Balin added. He also hit 10 of 14 fairways in regulation. Balin made seven birdies in a clean round through 16 holes and earned $5,000 from the $55,000 purse.
A graduate of the Professional Golf Management program at Penn State University in 2004, Balin has been the Met Section PGA Player of the Year the last two seasons and in 2011 he won the Met Section Championship for the first time.
Balin has missed the last three years in attempting to qualify for the PGA Tour. "I'll keep trying as long as my job allows it," he said.
The 170 starters played one round each on the Wanamaker and Ryder Courses. The 36-hole cut fell at seven over par 151. The last two rounds were on the Wanamaker.
The start of final round play was delayed for 50 minutes by morning fog.
The PGA of America 59th Stroke Play Championship
PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Wanamaker Course, 7,073 yards, par-72
Danny Balin, Rockville, Md., $5,000 69-70-70-67—276
Bob Sowards, Dublin, Ohio, $3,200 68-70-68-73—279
Rod Perry, Port Orange, Fla., $2,100 68-72-77-66—283
Colin Amaral, Port St. Lucie, Fla., $1,600 72-68-71-73—284
Chad Proehl, Urbandale, Iowa, $1,400 75-67-72-71—285
Jeff Sorenson, Blaine, Minn., $1,310 70-73-71-72—286
Richard Terga, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., $1,180 72-75-69-71—287
Patrick Langan, Ridgefield, Conn., $1,180 73-71-69-74—287
David Quinn, Marlton, N.J., $1,070 75-70-75-68—288
Rob Corcoran, Melbourne, Fla., $1,070 71-73-75-69—288
Dwayne Randall, Findley Lake, N.Y., $1,070 74-71-70-73—288
Ken Martin, Wellington, Fla., $1,070 71-72-72-73—288
Jim Estes, Germantown, Md., $1,070 71-71-73-73—288
Chris Black, Independence, Iowa, $1,070 72-73-69-74—288
Mark Faulkner, Marion, Ill., $990 72-74-74-69—289
Frank Esposito, Florham Park, N.J., $990 72-74-73-70—289
Scott Berliner, Kissimmee, Fla., $920 77-69-75-69—290
Gary Rusnak, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., $920 73-71-72-74—290
Craig Stevens, Dallas, Ga., $920 69-72-76-73—290
Rob Labritz, Pound Ridge, N.Y., $920 73-70-73-74—290
Sean Gorgone, Plymouth, Fla., $920 69-74-73-74—290
Kyle Voska, Cincinnati, Ohio, $840 72-70-78-71—291
Jerry Tucker, Stuart, Fla., $840 70-75-71-75—291
Mark Brown, Glen Head, N.Y., $840 68-75-73-75—291
Michael Zaremba, Pueblo West, Colo., $780 72-78-71-71—292
Craig Smith, Morristown, N.J., $780 72-75-73-71—292
Rick Schuller, Chester, Va., $780 75-76-68-73—292
Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga., $690.71 78-69-77-69—293
Nicholas Beddow, Shirley, N.Y., $690.71 77-74-72-70—293
Tim Weinhart, Alpharetta, Ga., $690.71 75-75-73-70—293
Pete Oakley, Palm City, Fla., $690.71 74-76-72-71—293
Tim Puetz, East Northport, N.Y., $690.71 71-76-75-71—293
Brent Snyder, Hudson, Wis., $690.71 73-75-72-73—293
Sam Arnold, Cincinnati, Ohio, $690.71 68-78-72-75—293
Frank Dully, Salem, Mass., $577.50 79-71-76-68—294
Frank Bensel, Jupiter, Fla., $577.50 76-75-72-71—294
Ryan Kalista, Old Greenwich, Conn., $577.50 73-72-78-71—294
Mark Mielke, East Norwich, N.Y., $577.50 80-70-72-72—294
Chase Brannon, Nashville, Tenn., $577.50 79-69-73-73—294
Kyle Baehler, Rye, N.Y., $577.50 75-74-72-73—294
Roy Vucinich, Moon Township, Pa., $577.50 73-73-75-73—294
Brian Cairns, Walled Lake, Mich., $577.50 74-75-71-74—294
Bob Darling, Lewiston., Maine, $515 75-76-74-70—295
Micah Rudosky, Cortez, Colo., $505 73-71-78-74—296
Craig Czerniejewski, Watertown, Wis., $475 70-79-75-73—297
Bobby Heins, Purchase, N.Y., $475 74-76-72-75—297
Patrick Steffes, Milwaukee, Wis., $475 `76-73-73-75—297
Peter Serafimoff, Millbrook, N.Y., $475 73-68-78-78—297
Robert McClellan, Butler, Pa., $475 72-78-78-69—297
Joe Chalmers, Port St. Lucie, Fla., $435 76-74-75-73—298
Tracy Vest, Waukee, Iowa, $435 70-79-75-74—298
Cory Schneider, Powells Point, N.C., $435 72-76-71-79—298
Andrew Bostrom, Bay Shore, N.Y., $415 72-79-73-75—299
Ben Stewart, Fairborn, Ohio, $390 75-75-78-72—300
Mark Kirk, East Aurora, N.Y., $390 74-75-78-73—300
Bill Andrews, Greenland, N.H., $390 73-77-76-74—300
James Ondo, Mamaroneck, N.Y., $390 76-73-75-76—300
Jason Stilley, Paducah, Ky., $335 75-74-81-71—301
John O’Leary, Reston, Va., $335 76-74-79-72—301
Brian Janty, Milwaukee, Wis., $335 76-75-76-74—301
Gary Robison, Canton, Ohio, $335 76-75-75-75—301
Tony Traci, Sewickley, Pa., $335 74-76-75-76—301
Dennis Winters, Bishopville, Md., $335 75-74-76-76—301
Jamie Kilmer, East Williston, N.Y., $335 75-73-75-78—301
Joe Gothmann, Tarrytown, N.Y., $292.50 78-73-75-76—302
Shaun Powers, Greenwich, Conn., $292.50 71-76-79-76—302
Dennis Colligan, Cazenovia, N.Y., $282.50 77-72-78-76—303
David Hutsell, Baltimore, Md., $282.50 76-71-79-77—303
Kevin Syring, Demarest, N.J., $275 73-78-79-74—304
Mitch Camp, Aurora, Ohio, $267.50 73-73-82-77—305
Korrie Madden, Glenshaw, Pa., $267.50 76-75-76-78—305
Michael Parrott, Woodstock, Ga., $260 69-79-80-78—306
Gary Ostrega, Westfield, N.J., $255 69-79-83-76—307
Patrick Massi, Greenwich, Conn., $247.50 75-76-78-79—308
Kevin Savage, Syracuse, N.Y., $247.50 80-71-75-82—308
Dave Laudien, Wall, N.J., $240 78-73-78-80—309