Polland wins first PGA Tournament series event

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Polland wins first PGA Tournament series event

Ben Polland continued to put the PGA Professional Championship behind him, making a final-hole birdie Tuesday to shoot a 6-under 66 and edge Mark Brown by a shot to win Event 1 of the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club.

Polland, who blew a two-shot lead at No. 18 to lose to Matt Dobyns in the PGA Professional Championship, hit a 9-iron to 7 feet Tuesday and made the putt to finish at 11-under 133. He earned $5,000 for his first win in the PGA Tournament Series.

“I was over the Club Pro real soon,” said Polland, the PGA Assistant Professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y. “I already got some retribution when I won the Met Open at Winged Foot with a birdie at 18 to get into a playoff. All I ask for is the opportunity.”

Polland made only two pars on his front nine, along with three birdies, three bogeys and an eagle at the par-5 seventh, when he “hooked” his 4-iron to 19 feet from the hole. He was solid down the stretch, with birdies at 15, 16 and 18 to avoid the playoff with Brown.

Polland was in between clubs at No. 18, holding a pitching wedge before he changed to a 9-iron from 139 yards. He was told on the tee he needed to birdie the hole to win.

“That enabled me to focus in a little more,” Polland said.

Brown, the PGA Head Professional at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Brookville, N.Y., shot the low round of the tournament, an 8-under 64, thanks to four consecutive birdies starting at the seventh hole. He finished with nine birdies and a lone bogey.

“I hit it fair at best, but I made putts from everywhere today, like I haven’t made in years,” said Brown, who has won four events in the PGA Tournament Series. “I bet you I only had 25 putts.”

Bob Sowards, a PGA Teaching Professional at New Albany (Ohio) Country Club, had a 66 and finished third alone at 136. He was the leading money winner in last year’s PGA Tournament Series and is the reigning PGA Professional Player of the Year.

“I played the par-5s only two-under for the tournament, so that’s why I lost,” Sowards said. “You have to play well on the par-5s.”

Dobyns, who has all but clinched this year’s Player of the Year award, shot consecutive 69s and was among five players tied for fourth. He gave a fist pump when Polland’s birdie on 18 dropped.

“He knew what he needed to do, and he did it,” Dobyns said of Polland. “He’s had some bad beats, but he’s also won some tournaments that way. He’s mature enough to know both things happen in golf. He was on the right side today.”