Dave McNabb hit his approach shot on the first playoff hole with the PGA Professional Championship title on the line and gave a thumbs-up to the Golf Channel camera operator walking beside him, which is all one needed to know about how much he was enjoying himself.
McNabb, head professional at Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern, had the time of his life Wednesday in the final round of the tournament for the nation's best club pros, held this year in Sunriver, Ore. He rallied from six shots behind at the start of the day, shooting a 3-under-par 69, and earned a sudden-death playoff against former PGA Tour player Omar Uresti.
Uresti won with a par on the second extra hole, but McNabb had no regrets.
"This was by far, given the circumstances, the best tournament round of golf I've played and the best week I've played in an event of this magnitude, bar none," McNabb, 51, of Newark, Del., said Wednesday night in a telephone interview.
"I played great today. I hit damn near every shot the way I wanted to, every putt. Obviously when you put yourself in that position, you want to close the deal, and I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get that done. But all in all, I'm proud of the way I played this week, especially today."
McNabb is in the midst of an impressive season. He competed last month in the Senior PGA Championship. Next week, he will head to Salem, Mass., for his first U.S. Senior Open. His performance on Wednesday earned him an invitation to the PGA Championship in Charlotte, N.C., and he will play in the PGA Cup matches in England in September.
"Without the support at home, my family, the members at the club, I wouldn't be able to do any of this stuff," he said. "So I feel very fortunate. I'm going to play three majors this year, that's pretty good stuff in my book."
It will be the third PGA Championship for McNabb, who also played in 2013 at Oak Hill in Rochester and in 2014 at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
McNabb ran off three birdies in five holes to take the lead late in Wednesday's final round, but a bad chip at No. 17 resulted in a bogey that dropped him into a tie with Uresti, 48, of Austin, Texas. Both men finished 72 holes at 4-under 283.
McNabb canned an 8-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to stay alive. But on the next hole, he drove into the rough, and his approach found a greenside bunker. He blasted out to 10 feet, but he missed his par putt, and Uresti got up and down from behind the green for par and the victory.
"My shot didn't come out of the rough the way I thought it was going to," he said. "On the putt, I hit it where I was looking but it just didn't do what I thought it would do.
"I felt really calm out there today. I didn't have any nerves. Even in the playoff, I felt like I was doing the right thing. I was swinging good and putting good. It felt great to be out there to be able to compete at that level and know that I belonged there."