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After final putt falls, more driving awaits for Britton
Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brook Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J., celebrated his 22nd wedding anniversary in impressive fashion Sunday -- by finishing in a tie for 16th place at the 69th Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
"I woke up so excited about the day," said Britton. "I played in this event last year and then again this year, so I haven't been playing a lot of golf. It was just a thrill to be here, and then to play so well and find myself in this position, it was great."
Britton started the day at 6 over par and tied for fourth place. Playing in the penultimate group with Scott Simpson and Tom Kite, he was only four shots off the pace with a real chance to take home the top prize as he teed off.
But his final round got off to an inauspicious start as he carded four bogeys and a double bogey in his opening nine holes. He was able to chip in for birdie on the par-5 fourth hole, but then started falling back with a stretch of four holes that he played in 5 over par.
"To be so excited coming in this morning and then to start throwing up like I did," he said, "my excitement really dwindled to discouragement."
Britton's battle for pars continued on the back nine when he bogeyed three of four holes, but then made four straight pars to finish his round at 8 over par. His 14-over 294 made him the low PGA Club Professional by four shots over his closest rival for the award, Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass.
"I didn't think about it too much during the week, but I had people mention it to me," Britton said. "It's definitely an honor. As they say, there are 28,000 of us (members of The PGA of America) and we're working away and it's a real pleasure for us to get the chance to come out and play with the best senior golfers in the world."
And how will Britton celebrate his achievement and this successful week? By driving home. After the ceremonies, autographs and interviews, he has to hit the road -- he is scheduled to teach at 8:00 a.m. on Monday back in New Jersey.
For being the low PGA Club Professional, Britton was presented a special crystal bowl commemorating his achievement by PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb during a special trophy ceremony on the 18th green following play. Britton was joined by 2008 champion Jay Haas and the leaders of The PGA of America and Oak Hill Country Club.
Britton is familiar with great success at the highest levels. He played on the PGA Tour for 15 years and had a victory on Tour at the 1989 Centel Classic. Britton also had three runner-up finishes while out on Tour: the 1982 Disney World, 1989 Hardee's Classic and 1992 Northern Telecom Classic.