Bob Sowards and Ben Kern didn’t need any late-hole heroics Thursday to defend their title in the PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship at PGA Golf Club.
Last year, Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, holed a bunker shot at the last hole to clinch a two-shot victory. Thursday, Sowards and Kern of Georgetown, Texas, combined for a 9-under 63 on the Wanamaker Course to win by three shots at 31-under 256.
Sowards and Kern birdied five of the first seven holes to tie for the lead with Judd Gibb of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Darin Fisher of Albia, Iowa, then fell behind when Gibb-Fisher birdied the ninth hole. But Sowards-Kern added four consecutive birdies on the back nine to successfully defend their title.
“My partner played unbelievable today and I just helped him when I could,” said Sowards, a PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, who won last week’s PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship.
“We have the same type of personality and the same type of game. Neither one of us talks a tremendous amount. He’s one of the best players in the country and I think I’m pretty good, too.”
Kern, who was low PGA Professional at the PGA Championship at Bellerive in 2018, said he asked Sowards to play with him three years ago, but Sowards already had a partner. They have been partners at the PGA Cup, so this pairing seemed inevitable.
“We both have a simple game,” Kern said. “We rarely make big mistakes. We’re going to make a lot of pars, and when we’re on, we’re going to go back and forth with a lot of birdies. We always had each other covered.”
They will pair up again for the PGA Four-Ball Stableford Team Championship on Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at PGA Golf Club.
Gibb and Fisher led after an opening 60 and took a two-shot lead into the final round. They eagled the par-5 seventh, but added only three birdies during the round and made a costly bogey at the par-4 15th for a 68 that left them at 28-under 259.
The teams of Mark Anderson-Pete Vitiello (66), Andy Brock-Alex Beach (66) and Sonny Skinner-Rob McClellan (67) tied for third place at 26-under 261.
The teams of Joe Summerhays-Bruce Summerhays, who shot the low round Thursday, a 62), and Marty D’Angelo-Travis Johns (66) finished tied for sixth at 25-under 262.
The PGA Winter Championships are Presented by GolfPass and On Location.