PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida — Alex Beach turned on the burners early and finished off a dominant come-from-behind victory in the 43rd National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club.
Trailing 54-hole leader Colin Inglis by three strokes entering Sunday’s final round, Beach rattled off three consecutive birdies on the Wanamaker Course to start his day and propel himself into the lead.
He never looked back.
Beach fired a final-round 5-under 67 to reach 8-under 280 for the Championship and edged out the runner-up, Carlos Sainz Jr. of Houston, by three strokes.
Beach became the first player in history to win multiple PGA of America national championships in the same calendar year. He is the reigning PGA Professional Champion, which he claimed this past April in Bluffton, South Carolina.
“It’s crazy. It’s a huge honor,” said Beach, a PGA Assistant Professional at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York. “It’s been a great year. I keep asking myself how it can get better. Winning a championship like the PPC makes everything relative.
“I felt very comfortable this week. I committed a couple mistakes yesterday that I was frustrated with. But I knew coming back today, it’s almost an advantage to play from behind. I was confident that my experience might prevail if I could play well. Getting off to the fast start was huge. As soon as the tide flips, just like it did in the PGA Cup, guys start looking at the leaderboard.”
Beach added another birdie on the sixth hole to make the turn at 4-under 32, reaching 7-under for the Championship.
While Beach was tearing up the front nine, those who began the final round ahead of him were struggling. Inglis (+5), Colin Van Es (+3), Caleb Wittig (+2) and Matt Rachey (+3) played a combined 13-over par through their first nine holes, which provided a sizable gap (four strokes) between Beach and the field. Beach played mistake-free with four birdies on the front, while the other four posted 11 bogeys, three double-bogeys and converted just four birdies, collectively.
“I’ve been in their position before,” said Beach, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “I know how hard it is to sleep on a lead. You’re thinking about outcomes. You’ve got a bunch of people texting you. I’ve learned how to block that out.”
A dropped shot on No. 10 was the lone mistake on Beach’s card. Birdies on 13 and 16 sealed the victory for Beach.
“I stayed in my own world. Carlos started making birdies, so I realized he was going to be my closest competition,” said Beach. “I kept the ball in front of me and calculated every shot really well. I’ve learned how to take my time and not rush through anything. Every shot matters.”
Beach is the fourth to own a title in both the Assistant PGA Professional Championship and the PGA Professional Championship, joining Darrell Kestner (Assistant - 1982, ‘87; PPC - ‘96), Bruce Zabriski (Assistant - ‘95; PPC - ‘97) and Tim Thelen (Assistant - 2009; PPC - ‘00, ‘03).
Sainz entered the final round tied with Beach. After starting 3-over through his first 10 holes, Sainz applied some pressure on his playing partner, Beach, with birdies on 11, 13, 15 and 16. While he didn’t come away with the victory, Sainz finished three strokes ahead of Scott Berliner and Timothy Wiseman, who each tied for third at 2-under 286.
Colin Van Es finished alone in fifth place at even-par 288.
Beach’s success in 2019 goes well beyond his victories in Bluffton and Port St. Lucie. In late September, he was an integral piece of the U.S. PGA Cup Team en route to their dramatic come-from-behind victory. And last week, Beach solidified membership onto the Korn Ferry Tour for 2020 by advancing through the second stage of Q-School.
“It’s hard work paying off,” said Beach. “It’s nice to represent all the Assistants out there. The work is just starting.”
Beach earned $12,000 of the $150,000 purse. The top-four finishers, if eligible, earned a berth in next year’s National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, to be held November 12-15 at PGA Golf Club.
The National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship is supported by Srixon | Cleveland Golf | XXIO, Golf Advisor and John Deere.