PORT ST. LUCIE – It’s a good bet Darrell Kestner and Sean Quinlivan will be taking home more trophies together.
Playing together for the first time, Kestner and Quinlivan won the PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship with a 4-under 68 Wednesday, edging Gary Robison and Dennis Miller by a shot.
Kestner and Quinlivan didn’t think they had won when they finished in the penultimate group – “We thought we might miss by one or two,” Kestner said – but the 19-under 269 stood up in difficult conditions on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club.
They bogeyed the second hole and were 2-under after 13, but Quinlivan made birdies at 14 and 16. The winners shared the $10,000 first prize.
“We never gave up,” said Kestner, the PGA Director of Golf at Deepdale Golf Club who last year was named the PGA Golf Professional of the Year. “The greens and the pin placements were so difficult; I said even though we’re not making birdies, it’s difficult out here. Obviously, the whole field was having problems.”
Kestner, 64, pointed out he won this PGA Winter Championship event 14 years ago – when Kestner had just become a senior. For Quinlivan, a 42-year-old Irishman who played on the European Tour, the victory ranked near the top of his recent achievements.
“This is pretty big for me because I haven’t done a lot since getting into this side of the business,” said Quinlivan, the PGA Head Professional at Piping Rock. “We make a good team together.”
The team of Robison-Miller got it to 19-under when Robison made birdies at 13 and 14. But they bogeyed the 16th, didn’t birdie the par-5 17th and Robison’s birdie try at 18 from 20 feet just missed.
“I knew I needed birdie on the last hole and I hit it right where I wanted, but it just didn’t turn,” Robison said. “That bogey on 16 hurt us. We made two bogeys today and that’s all you can say.”
Suzy Whaley, Vice President of the PGA of America, teamed with Ben Polland to finish alone in third at 17-under after a 66 left them two behind. Polland birdied the first four holes and they shot a 30 on the front nine.
“It’s extremely exciting to finish third,” Whaley said. “I love to play the game and I think it’s our responsibility as PGA Professionals to play the game and keep our games at a high level. I had a super partner in Ben – he’s so steady I can make pars so he can make birdies – but I contributed here and there.”
Polland said it was a recommendation from Kestner who helped arrange for Polland to team with Whaley. “We were a good team,” Polland said. “We played really well on the front, but we didn’t hit it close enough on the back.”
The defending champions, Mark Brown and Matt Dobyns, shot a 62, aided by Brown’s hole-in-one at the fifth hole with a wedge from 155 yards, to finish tied for fourth after a 62. It was Brown’s 15th ace in competition.
“It was nice to put some birdies together,” Brown said. “I don’t think we made a putt over 10 feet all week.”
Also tied for fourth at 16-under 272 were the teams of Steve Schneiter-Bob Sowards (67), Jim Karr-Benjamin Cook (68) and Rick Schuller-Steve Delmar (70).
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.