Category - Major Events

Doan Leads Race for Low PGA Club Professional at KitchenAid Senior PGA

By Jeff Babineau
Published on

Eleven members of the Corebridge Financial PGA Team of Club Professionals made the cut to earn their spots on the weekend at the 83rd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco, and for several, experience played a pivotal role.
Bob Sowards, who tied for fifth in this championship two years ago at Southern Hills, stepped to his final hole, the par-4 ninth, at 3-over par late Friday, thinking that’s where the cut would fall (eventually, after a tumultuous few hours, it did move to 3-over). 
His caddie, Kerry Baugher, told Sowards on his 36th hole the cut was going to be 2-over. So Sowards had one thing in mind as he lined up his 35-foot putt for birdie: get it there. He did, making the putt to assure he would be sticking around.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Sowards, 54, PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio. He has played in four Senior PGAs and made the cut each time.
None of the 36 PGA Professionals in the field would experience the stress that Tim Weinhart would feel as his tee time neared on Friday. 
Weinhart, PGA Director of Instruction at Heritage Golf Links in Tucker, Georgia, was warming up shortly before his tee time when he cracked the face on his driver. That touched off a mad scramble as the seconds ticked away and his tee time neared. The shop staff at PGA Frisco found him a driver head – same brand (TaylorMade, but different model), he hit three balls with it, darted to the tee and played. Weinhart shot 73 and made the cut.
He also credited his caddie, Steve Johnston, a good friend of 30 years, for keeping him calm while all this was going on.
“He just told me, ‘Hey, look, we've done this before, don't worry about it,’” said Weinhart, who was in Georgia when the week started, the tournament’s fourth alternate. This is his ninth major overall, and third start at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.  
Chad Proehl, 55, is another seasoned player who came through when he needed to do so. Proehl, a PGA Teaching Professional at Sugar Creek Golf Club in Iowa, went out in 39 on Friday, having doubled his first hole of the day. But on the back nine, he found something, and kept on charging. He hit 4-iron pin high on his second shot at 18, up on a little hill, and hit a beautiful pitch over a bunker to 4 feet to set up one final birdie, shooting 73 to sneak inside the cut line.
“I got to 5-over, so I needed to do something,” he said. “To respond like I did, it feels pretty gratifying, to be honest. I haven’t played in a whole lot of these. It feels good to battle, and be in the heat. For a while there, it was going in the wrong direction. It was good to turn it around.”
Cameron Doan of the Northern Texas PGA Section leads the 11 PGA Club Professionals from the Corebridge Financial PGA Team that made the cut and are playing on the weekend. Doan, playing alongside longtime friend Harrison Frazar, shot 72 and stands at 1-over 217 for the week.
Doan, 55, is playing this week representing his 800 fellow PGA Professionals from his Section, of which he is vice president. It’s been a great week for Doan already. He hit the historic first shot at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco on Thursday; played with his old college roommate, Paul Stankowski, for two rounds (and three rounds with Frazar); and has been sharing his week with his son, Tristan, on the bag. His mom watched him play on Saturday.
Earning honors as Low Club Professional would be the capper on a week that Doan, the PGA Director of Golf at Preston Trail Golf Club in nearby Dallas, will not soon forget.
“To be honest, it (Low Club Professional) didn't start out as a goal,” Doan said on Saturday. “It is one now. Probably try not to think about that tomorrow and just go play. But it would be an honor to stand on that 18th green with whoever wins this golf tournament.
“That would be cool.”