Brian Smock eagles final hole to earn spot in second consecutive PGA Championship

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Brian Smock eagles final hole to earn spot in second consecutive PGA Championship

SEASIDE, Calif. -- Late in his final round of the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday at Bayonet, 45-year-old Brian Smock put himself in a dicey situation.

With back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes, he slipped to 3 over for the week, which -- at the time -- had him on the bubble for the top 20. The top-20 finishers get in to the PGA Championship.

Smock seemingly didn't care much for the bubble. He removed any suspense as to whether or not he'd be at Bellerive in August with an eagle on the 18th hole to shoot a 2-under 70 and finish the tournament at 1-over 289. 

For the second time in as many years, he will finish inside the top 20 and go to the PGA Championship.

"That's the goal. I think everyone would say that at the beginning of the week," said Smock, from Coronado Golf Course in Coronado, Calif. "I don't have a lot of time to work on my game, but it looks like the things I've been working on paid off. That was satisfying. I got behind the 8-ball early in the week with a 77 in the first round, but I held my composure and things worked out in the end."

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And that eagle. What a nice way to finish and put the cherry on top.

"I wasn't expecting the tee to be up where it was on 18," Smock said. I drove it awesome there every day. I hit another great drive and then I hit a great 8-iron in there from 176 yards that settled right below the hole and made the 20 footer. I knew I was safe if I 2-putted, but for some reason the putter didn't want to come back. I finally got it back and I guess it was just meant to be. It didn't even look like it was going in and it went in. I'll take it."

Smock is really looking forward to his upcoming trip to Bellerive. In his first PGA Championship appearance a year ago at Quail Hollow, Smock only played 28 holes before being forced to withdraw due to back issues.

Smock said the back has always been an issue for him, even back when he played the Tour. He has a herniated disc and spinal spinal stenosis.  

The key now, he said, is not doing too much. 

"I limit my practice," Smock said. "If anything, less is more for me. I might have to get there early and maybe just walk the course a little bit before and maybe just get one practice round in. Yesterday, my hip was bothering me. I kind of get by these days because I don't practice. I play. I don't practice. The wear and tear is tough. I have to be patient and not do too much. I think I tried to practice too much last year because it was a major and you want to feel like you're playing well going in there. But, I'm probably just better off sticking at work and doing what I normally do."