PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jim Woodward of Edmond, Okla., has spent 18 months as professional golf’s answer to an expectant father. With a rude assist from Mother Nature, Woodward’s defense of his title in the 2013 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA has taken that long.
The 25th Championship, originally slated last October, was postponed due to a week of inclement weather in Northern Virginia. The restart is April 15-18, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
“I have held one title longer than anybody, probably,” said Woodward, a 56-year-old PGA Life Member, “It’s going to be nice, actually, to get to play no matter what happens.”
Northern Virginia received more than seven inches of rain that week in October forcing the postponement.
“I never saw so much rain in my life, to be honest. It just kept raining,” said Woodward. “I felt sorry for everyone involved. We all wanted to play so bad.”
Woodward is one of 264 PGA Professionals at least 50 years of age who have qualified to compete in the Championship through one of the 41 PGA Sections. The low 70 scorers and ties after the second round, April 16, advance to the weekend's final 36 holes at the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club.
“I have played both [Ryder and Wanamaker] courses a number of times and know them pretty well,” said Woodward. “I think it will be a good test and I sure hope the weather is better this time around.”
The low 35 finishers earn a berth in the 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 22-25, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., but Woodward has other goals in mind.
“I have always gone into this event wanting to win, and fortunately I did that in 2012,” said Woodward. “If I happen to win again, I get another chance to play in the Senior PGA Championship. But that’s really just an afterthought.”
The Championship currently features 10 past Champions: Tom Joyce of Huntington, N.Y. (1990, '91); Pete Oakley of Palm City, Fla. (1999); Ed Sabo of Tequesta, Fla. (2000, ’01); Jeff Thomsen of Boise, Idaho (2003); Jim White of Lincoln, Neb. (2004); Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash. (2006); Bill Loeffler of Littleton, Colo. (2007); Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass (2008, '11); Bill Britton of Colts Neck, N.J. (2009); and Woodward (2012).
Oakley, a 64-year-old PGA Life Member, also won the 2004 Senior British Open.
The 2013 Champion will have his name inscribed on the Leo F. Fraser Trophy, while the top eight finishers, including ties, will receive exemptions into the 2014 Senior PGA Professional National Championship, to be played in November.