By Stan Awtrey, Special to PGA.com
KOHLER, Wis. -- Rob Labritz was all smiles was he walked onto the green at the 18th hole of the PGA Championship. When the announcer called his name, Labritz broke into a big smile and doffed his blue Titleist hat. Minutes later he tapped in to complete his tournament, saying he failed to accomplish his personal goals but admitting he had a great time.
Labritz was the only one of 20 club professionals in the field who qualified for the final two rounds at Whistling Straits. He shot a 5-over 77 on Sunday and finished at 7-over 295.
"The week was great," Labritz said. "You know, beyond expectations. Obviously from No. 9, I didn't strike the ball as well as I had hoped, but it was great to play with Retief (Goosen), a cool guy, and I enjoyed the golf course. Again, just an awesome experience."
Labritz, 39, played several seasons on the Canadian Tour in the mid-2000s and knows what it's like to compete at a high level. The PGA director of golf at Glen Arbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y., either plays or practices every day and entered the PGA Championship with high expectations. His first goal was to make the cut, which he reached. His second goal was to keep plugging along and make the top 15 by doing some "flag hunting."
"I was hunting flags early today," he said. "I was hitting the shots at the green but unfortunately the greens were not as receptive, a little firmer, a little faster. I just picked some bad yardages, flew the ball a little too far coming into the greens, and hit it over the greens."
He miscalculated at No. 1 and hit it over the green, making bogey. He didn't carry it far enough at No. 3 and made a double-bogey. He was 10 feet short of the flag on No. 9, but didn't get up and down and made another bogey.
Labritz played Saturday's round with Rickie Fowler, the up-and-coming rookie star, and played Sunday with Goosen, two-time U.S. Open champion. Labritz said he enjoyed getting to know Fowler and that he and Goosen "chilled out" on Sunday.
Goosen even said something to Labritz after he made a good shot from the thick collar of the rough on the 72nd hole. "Retief's very laid back," Labritz said of the South African. "A very cool guy. I enjoyed playing with him."
So while the PGA Tour moves on to Greensboro next week, Labritz returns to his job. He's already setting his sites on next year's PGA Professional National Championship in Hershey, Penn., with an eye on reaching the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
"I would like to win the National Club Pro," he said. "Obviously, if I can get back here, I'm going to keep my same goal since I didn't attain it, and go for the top 15."