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Tiger Woods, Mike Small
When he collected his prize for low PGA Professional at the 2007 PGA Championship, Mike Small posed with PGA Champion Tiger Woods. (Cannon/Getty Images)

It's a Small World

Mike Small leads a contingent of 20 PGA Professionals competing in this week’s PGA Championship.

By Tony L. Starks, Contributor

It's not everyday that PGA Professionals are presented the chance to showcase their playing ability on a nationally televised stage, but the 42nd PGA Professional National Championship, which aired on Golf Channel June 28 – July 1, gave them just that opportunity. And for the top 20 finishers, they'll be getting that opportunity again at this week’s PGA Championship here at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Leading the way for this select group of PGA Professionals is 2009 National Champion Mike Small, the head men's golf coach at the University of Illinois and 2009 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year. A two-time winner of the PGA Professional National Championship, the 43-year-old Small will be making a run at "The Season’s Final Major ... Glory's Last Shot" for the fifth time in the past six years.

Joining him will be 2008 National Champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Mich., and Chris Starkjohann, 53, of Encinitas, Calif., who earlier this year finished tied for fifth at the Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio.

Both Hebert and Starkjohann qualified for the season's final major by way of an eight-man playoff resulting in Mike Miles, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Mitch Lowe, Modesto, Calif.; and Kevin Roman, Roswell, Ga.; along with Hebert and Starkjohann securing the remaining five spots in the 91st PGA Championship.

"As I watched the playoff the tension, determination and pressure on these players' faces was as intense as you might find at any major championship in golf," says PGA of America President Jim Remy. "I offer my sincerest congratulations to the 20 guys who are competing this week at Hazeltine National."

Small, who led the Illinois men's golf program to its first Big Ten title in 21 years and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the second straight season and the fourth time in the last eight years, has made the cut in two of his past three PGA Championship appearances (2005, '07).

Editor's Note: This story appears courtesy of The 91st PGA Championship Journal.

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