A Look Back at the Last Time a PGA National Championship was Played in New Mexico
Champion Mike Small with the Walter Hagen Cup at the awards ceremony on hole 18 green following the final round of the 42nd PGA Professional National Championship at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, USA, on Wednesday, July 1, 2009. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
13 years ago, University of Illinois men's golf head coach Mike Small, PGA, used a birdie on the par-five 16th to help propel him to victory at the 2009 PGA Professional National Championship at Twin Warriors in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, the last time the PGA of America hosted a National Championship at a pair of the most celebrated golf facilities in the Southwest.
Small won his second of three titles that year, having also won it in 2005 and 2010. Unfortunately, Small will not compete at this week’s Senior PGA Championship.
"This is huge," Small said afterward. "It validates the one I had four years ago and sets me up for a good year-and-a-half of golf. It also brings credibility to our program."
Small entered the day at four under par, in a tie for sixth and four strokes off the lead. He shot his second straight 68 to finish at seven under par 277, one stroke in front of Stephen Schneiter and Mark Sheftic. The trio entered the final two holes in a tie for first at -7. Schneiter bogeyed 17 and after Small finished his round with a pair of pars, Sheftic failed to get up and down on 18, missing a 15-foot par putt.
"I surprised myself," Small said of his victory. "I haven't been able to practice and I've been hampered with a bad back, but when you get in this position, old memories kick in."
For Small, the winning hole came on the 584-yard par five. After a booming drive, Small reached the green in two, just barely missing an eagle putt before tapping in for birdie.
"After a solid drive, I hit a perfect four iron and just pulled the eagle putt," Small said of the 16th. "I concentrated on hitting greens and fairways on the tough 17 and 18 holes."
At the time, Small trailed Tim Weinhart by two strokes, but Weinhart played his last five holes at four-over par and finished at -4. Small made five birdies and just two bogeys in his three-under par round.
Upon winning, Small not only secured the Walter Hagen Cup but then played in the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club.