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Scott Hebert became the fourth Michigan PGA Section winner to capture the Walter Hagen Cup. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Hebert leads 20 PGA Professionals into PGA Championship

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Tiger Woods might not be at Oakland Hills for the 90th PGA Championship, but 20 of The PGA of America's top club professionals will be. Led by new champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Mich., the group earned their way into the season's final major with stellar performances in the recent PGA Professional National Championship.

By Bob Denney, Contributor

LAKE OCONEE, Ga. -- PGA Professional National Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Mich., a PGA head professional at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme, Mich., will lead a group of 20 PGA Professionals earning berths in the 90th PGA Championship, Aug. 4-10, at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich.

Hebert, 39, will be competing in his second consecutive PGA Championship. He captured his first national title June 22, with a final-round 4-under-par 68 for a 12-under-par 276 total in the 41st PGA Professional National Championship at Great Waters in Lake Oconee, Ga.

Hebert rallied from a three-stroke deficit with birdies on five of his first seven holes of the back nine. It was the momentum he needed for a closing 4-under-par 68 and a one-stroke victory over Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., in the showcase event for PGA Professionals.

Hebert, who had endured a personal drama a week earlier with the premature birth of his daughter, was noticeably calm and composed as he crafted a memorable final round for a winning total of 12-under-par 276 on the 7,043-yard Great Waters layout.

Skinner, 47, a cool veteran who had some 300 Tour events under his belt before assuming the PGA director of golf post at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., finished with a 69. He saw his potential tying birdie putt run past on the 18th hole.

Hebert, who had pitched from 30 yards behind the green to eight feet past the flagstick, lagged to tap-in range for the victory, making him the fourth Michigan PGA Section member to win this National Championship.

Kyle Flinton of Oklahoma City, Okla., who shared the third-round lead, came home with a 72 to finished third at 280. Ryan Benzel of Bothell, Wash., who tied for runner-up last year, had a 67 to share fourth with two-time Champion Tim Thelen of College Station, Texas, who closed with a 69.

Hebert picked up the Walter Hagen Cup for his work and a check of $75,000 from a total purse of $550,000. He will be leading a delegation of 20 PGA Professionals to the 90th PGA Championship, Aug. 7-10, at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich.

"This means everything to me, and it's the greatest thing that I've ever won," said Hebert. "To play there [his home state] will be extra special. That atmosphere is going to be incredible and fun to be around."

Hebert said that he took a long look at the crystal, the Walter Hagen Cup, which he hoisted after the round and realizing that his name will be connected to the big prize.

"That's special," he said. "The name Walter Hagen and what he has done with The PGA and for golf. The guy is a legend, so to have your name on it means a lot."

The following PGA Professionals will join Hebert in the 90th PGA Championship:

Sam Arnold, Cincinnati, Ohio, The Vineyard Golf Course in Cincinnati
Ryan Benzel, Bothell, Wash., Mill Creek (Wash.) Country Club
Bradley Dean, Thompsonville, Mich., Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville
Eric Dugas, Brewster, Mass., Old Sandwich Golf Club in Plymouth, Mass.
Frank Esposito Jr., Monroe, N.J., Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, N.J.
Jim Estes, Germantown, Md., Olney (Md.) Golf Park
Kyle Flinton, Oklahoma City, Okla., Quail Creek Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City
Vince Jewell, Euless, Texas, Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas
Rick Leibovich, Salinas, Calif., Tehama Golf Club in Carmel, Calif.
Dave Long, Bowie, Md., The Country Club at Woodmore in Bowie
Eric Manning, Cortland, N.Y., Cortland (N.Y.) Country Club
Brad Martin, Portland, Ore., The Portland Golf Club
Jeff Martin, Warwick, R.I., Point Judith Country Club in Naragansett, R.I.
Curt Sanders, Wilmington, N.C., Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington
Alan Morin, Royal Palm Beach, Fla., The Falls Country Club in Lake Worth, Fla.
Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga., River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga.
Tim Thelen, College Station, Texas, Traditions Golf Club at Texas A&M in Bryan, Texas
Tim Weinhart, Suwanee, Ga., St. Marlo Country Club in Duluth, Ga.
Don Yrene, Scottsdale, Ariz., The Golf Club of Scottsdale.

The 41st PGA Professional National Championship was presented by Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra; Buick; and Club Car, and featured a total purse of $550,000.

The PGA Professional National Championship and Section Championships feature a total purse of more than $1.5 million. The PGA Tour is a Supporting Sponsor of PGA of America member championships and Golf Channel is the exclusive media partner of the PGA Professional National Championship.

Since 1916, The PGA of America's mission has been twofold; to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, the Association enables PGA Professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the $76 billion golf industry.

By creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable golf promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. The PGA of America brand represents the very best in golf.

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