Published: Tuesday, October 01, 2019 | 9:00 a.m.
AUSTIN, Texas — After playing five matches and 85 holes for his country in the PGA Cup, Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, will take 48 hours off to catch his breath before defending his title Thursday in the 31st Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac.
The big consolation for Sowards, the 51-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, is that he won’t have to travel.
The Senior PGA Professional Championship is hosted by Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, the site of last week’s PGA Cup, the international showcase for PGA Club Professionals. Sowards was one of 10 U.S. heroes in a historic 14-12 comeback victory over Great Britain & Ireland, as the Americans recaptured the PGA Cup after a four-year absence.
Sowards competed last week on the Foothills Course, which will join the nearby Coore Crenshaw Cliffside Course in hosting a field of 264 players through Sunday, Oct. 6.
“I’m really looking forward to defending my title, and we will have another great field,” said Sowards. “It was a long, but great week here in the PGA Cup. I learned a lot about the course. I’m needing my rest.”
The low 35 scorers will earn a berth into the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan, May 19-24. The top five finishers will earn an exemption into the final stage of the 2019 PGA Tour Champions National Finals. And those who finish in the top eight, including ties, will automatically qualify for next year’s Championship, to be held Oct. 15-18, 2020, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Forty-two states are represented in the field. Sowards, the reigning Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year, is one of nine past Champions competing for the Leo Fraser Trophy.
All players will compete on the Fazio Foothills and Coore-Crenshaw Cliffside Courses Thursday and Friday, to be followed by a cut to the low 90 scorers and ties. Following Saturday’s round, a second cut will be made to the low 70 scorers and ties. The third and final rounds will be played on the Fazio Foothills Course. In addition to the Leo Fraser Trophy, named after the 16th president of the PGA of America, players are competing for the $300,000 purse including the winner’s share of $21,500.
Sowards is one of 10 past champions in the field, and joined by Pete Oakley of Palm City, Florida (1999); Mike San Filippo of Hobe Sound, Florida (2002, ’05); Jim White of Lincoln, Nebraska (2004); Jeff Coston of Blaine, Washington (2006); Kirk Hanefeld of South Hamilton, Massachusetts (2008, ’11), Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas (2010), Frank Esposito Jr. of Old Bridge, New Jersey (2014, ’17), John DalCorobbo of Speedway, Indiana (2015) and Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah (2016).
Women contestants include Sherry Andonian of La Quinta, California, who is making her second straight appearance in the Championship, and will be joined by Michelle Murphy of Sherrill, New York.