PORT ST. LUCIE – Mark Brown was the least surprised person Tuesday when partner Joshua Rackley made birdie putts on the 15th and 16th holes to help the team win the PGA Four-Ball Stableford Team Championship at PGA Golf Club.
“He takes 20 bucks from me every afternoon,” Brown, the PGA Head Professional at Tam O’Shanter Golf Club in Glen Head, N.Y., said of his assistant.
Brown and Rackley scored 13 points in very windy conditions on the Wanamaker Course to finish with 44, two ahead of Leonard Siter and Frank Esposito (10-42). The winners split the $8,000 first prize in the PGA Winter Championships event.
Rackley, who won last year’s Met Open, credited a one-hour putting session he had on a putting green in his home Monday night for making the key putts that enabled he and Brown to overcome a one-point deficit with four holes to play.
“It all comes down to the putter in these conditions,” Rackley said. “I felt comfortable over everything. It’s all about speed out here. If you can pick the lines and hit the right speed, it’s going to go in.”
Siter and Esposito had a 1-point lead entering the final round, and they clung to that lead midway on the back nine. But the New Jersey-based PGA Professionals finished with five consecutive pars to split the $4,500 runner-up check.
“They made a few more putts than we did, and that’s what it usually comes down to in these things,” Esposito said. “We played well. It was a tough day.”
Brown and Rackley teamed up to win last year’s Long Island Pro-Assistant. They combined this week for 20 birdies, an eagle and a bogey – on the 17th hole Tuesday when they had a three-point lead.
“It was good to have him as a partner,” Brown said of Rackley, the only player in the final group who played from the longer tees. “He’s playing 30 to 50 yards behind us, and he’s right in there. Every hole we were putting for birdie.”
Alex Beach and Ben Polland finished third with 39 points, two ahead of Jeff Sorenson and Rod Perry. Donny Lee and David Damesworth were fifth with 36.
The defending champions, Rich Berberian and Rob Corcoran, tied for ninth with 33 points.
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.