By Marino Parascenzo, Special to PGA.com
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Darrell Kestner didn't leave much out there on Laurel Valley Golf Club, but if he'd had putted just a tad better ...
But hey, that's golf.
Kestner, the PGA head professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., shot a 2-over-par 74 in the final round Sunday for a 6-over 294 total to take low club professional honors at the 66th Senior PGA Championship.
He finished two shots ahead of Oakmont professional Bob Ford (74), Butch Sheehan (77), from Golf Quest in Middlebury, Vt., and Mike San Filippo (77), from Hobe Sound, Fla.
About Kestner's putting -- he three-putted Nos. 9 and 13, both for his only double bogeys of the tournament.
"I drove the ball pretty well this week," said Kestner, who hit the fairways 78 percent of the time. "That gave me good chances. But my putting was faulty."
Actually, he was fine until those two three-putts in the final round.
Taking low club professional honors was pleasing, he agreed. "Nice to do," he said. "Especially since this was such a tough course for me. It played so long. But it was good to make the cut. This was my 18th major, and I did make the cut. I made it earlier in the Senior PGA and the U.S. Senior Open, so I'm on a kind of a roll."
If Ford thought shooting three straight 74s was getting to be an old story, what did he think of a fourth straight? Yep -- he closed with a 74, thanks to a clutch par his final hole.
"A 75 just was not acceptable," Ford said.
And so at No. 9, his final hole, he hit a good drive, then followed with a 4-iron from 190 yards to 25 feet -- definite three-putt range on Laurel Valley's challenging greens.
"But I knew you guys were just laying for me," Ford told a bunch of writers, "so I just shook that first one down there, and then I shook it in for the par."
Ford had another streak that drove him goofy -- four straight bogeys at the par-3 eighth. How did it bogey it this time?
"Same as every other time," he cracked. "Just miss the green, chip on, and two-putt."
Tom Herzan, a professional at Findlay (Ohio) CC, had trouble with the wind again, and where guessing and crossing his fingers worked earlier, the charms didn't work this time. He shot a six-bogey 76 for a 297, fifth among club professionals.
"I just could not figure out the wind," Herzan said. "I'd hit a good drive, but couldn't pull the right iron."
Stamina was the problem for Gary Robison, director of golf at Firestone. He hadn't played a four-round event since the Champions Tour qualifying school in November. And wintering in the north isn't conducive to golf.
"I think I just ran out of gas," said Robison, who finished with a 79. He suffered two double bogeys after watering shots at the par-5 3rd and the par-4 10th.
"I didn't play very well," Robison said, "but it was a great experience."
The other PGA professionals who made the cut were: Chuck Milne, a PGA Life Member who owns a golf range in Vancouver, Wash. (74-75-75-79--302 +10); and Bobby Heins, the PGA Head Professional at Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, N.Y. (72-77-77-77-303 +15).