Defending champ Hanefeld looks to make history at Southworth Sr. PNC

By Randy Stutzman
Published on

Kirk Hanefeld is thrilled to be making a return trip to a place where he made a bit of history in 2011, and hoping he can make a lot more history in 2012.

The PGA Director of Instruction at Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill, Mass., is seeking to become the first three-time winner of the Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.

The Championship returns to Creighton Farms in Aldie, Va., and River Creek Club in Leesburg, Va., on Oct. 11–14, for a second consecutive year.

Hanefeld, who also won the title in 2008, will try and separate himself from four others; Mike San Filippo of Hobe Sound, Fla. (2002, ’05), Ed Sabo of Tequesta, Fla. (2000, ’01) Roger Kennedy of Pompano Beach, Fla. (1992, 1994) and Tom Joyce of Huntington, N.Y. (1990, ’91), who have each won twice.

“My game is really starting to round into shape and I hope I can play well enough to have a chance at a third title,” says Hanefeld, who lives in Acton. “It’s going to be fun to get back out and compete in this event with some great players.”

Last year, he executed the shot he needed for a 72nd-hole birdie, holding off Ken Martin of Wellington, Fla., to win the 2011 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

Hanefeld had not surrendered the lead all week until the 69th hole, capping off an erratic round with a 96-yard wedge approach at 18, which landed just past the flagstick and spun back to within 18 inches of the cup. His birdie putt was enough to hold off Martin, who had briefly held a two-stroke margin before bogeys on his final two holes.

“I had the lead most of the Championship but had a bad stretch and almost gave it all up,” says Hanefeld. “It ended up being pretty back and forth between Ken and I, but I was able to hit a great shot at the end to win it. This is a crazy game.”

In his three appearances in the Championship, Hanefeld has not finished worse than a tie for 23rd.

“Golf’s pretty funny. It just seems like in October, when this Championship is held each year, is when I am playing my best,” says Hanefeld. “It’s really all about timing for me.”

Hanefeld will be joined by 10 past Champions in the national championship field: Bill Britton (2009) of Rumson, N.J.; Jeff Coston (2006) of Blaine, Wash.; Tom Joyce (1990, ’91) of Huntington, N.Y.; Bill Loeffler (2007) of Castle Rock, Colo.; Ed Sabo (2000, ’01) of Tequesta, Fla.; Pete Oakley (1999) of Palm City, Fla.; Mike San Filippo (2002, ’05) of Hobe Sound, Fla.; Robert Thompson (2010) of Huntsville, Texas; Jeff Thomsen (2003) of Boise, Idaho; and Jim White (2004) of Lincoln, Neb.

The 264-player field features PGA Professionals at least 50 years of age, as of the Championship, who have qualified through one of the 41 PGA Sections.

The low 35 finishers will qualify for the 2013 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo.

The top eight finishers, including ties, will receive exemptions into the 2013 Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

In addition, the top five finishers will be exempt into the Champions Tour National Finals at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla., provided they have submitted an entry by the entry deadline.