Category - Member Events

Five Takeaways From the 2024 PGA Professional Championship

By Ryan Adams, PGA
Published on

What a week in Frisco, Texas!
312 PGA of America Members came into town with an eye on the Walter Hagen Cup and a spot in the PGA Championship. By Wednesday evening at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco, that number was whittled down to 21.
Ben Polland, the PGA Director of Golf at Shooting Start of Jackson Hole, was victorious, winning by three after a gutsy final round performance. 20 other PGA of America Members will join Polland at Valhalla Golf Club in a few weeks as part of the Corebridge Financial PGA Team.
Those developments, and much more, in the five things you need to know about the 2024 PGA Professional Championship.
Polland gets redemption, wins by four at Fields Ranch
Ben Polland had been here before. In 2015 at The Philadelphia Cricket Club he had a three-shot lead heading into the final hole of the PGA Professional Championship.
When he tapped on 18, the lead was gone and Matt Dobyns was the Champion. Not this time around though.
Polland gutted out a 76 in windy, test conditions at Fields Ranch East to get some sweet redemption on 2015 and claim the Walter Hagen Cup over Jared Jones and Andy Svoboda by three shots. After an early bogey-double bogey on holes four and five, he settled in with a birdie on No. 7. A clutch par putt on the challenging 13th hole at Fields Ranch East gave him some momentum, and a birdie at the par-5 14th gave Polland the cushion he needed to get through the cauldron of leading the final round.
On Tuesday evening, holding the 54-hole lead, Polland said that "this is the position everyone wants to be in going into the last day."
24 hours later, he not only conquered the demons of the past but he was in the position everyone wanted to be in on Wednesday evening: holding the Walter Hagen Cup.
A ticket to Valhalla, PGA Championship secured
As 2024 PGA Professional Champion, Polland will lead a group of 20 PGA of America Members to Valhalla Golf Club for the PGA Championship, May 13-19, as part of the Corebridge Financial Team.
The other PGA of America Members include (in order of finish):
Andy Svoboda, Roslyn, New York; Illinois PGA Section (T-2)
Jared Jones, Houston, Texas; Southern Texas PGA Section (T-2)
John Somers, Clearwater, Florida; North Florida PGA Section (T-4)
Jesse Mueller, Phoenix, Arizona; Southwest PGA Section (T-4)
Tyler Collet, Vero Beach, Florida; South Florida PGA Section (T-6)
Brad Marek, Berkeley, California; Northern California PGA Section (T-6)
Evan Bowser, Estero, Florida; South Florida PGA Section (T-8)
Jeremy Wells, Estero, Florida; South Florida PGA Section (T-8)
Jeff Kellen, Rockford, Illinois; Illinois PGA Section (T-8)
Josh Speight, Locust Hill, Virginia; Middle Atlantic PGA Section (T-8)
Larkin Gross, Center Cross, Virginia; Middle Atlantic PGA Section (T-8)
Preston Cole, Charlotte, North Carolina; Carolinas PGA Section (T-8)
Tracy Phillips, Tulsa, Oklahoma; South Central PGA Section (T-8)
Josh Bevell, Nashville, Tennessee; Tennessee PGA Section (T-8)
Matt Dobyns, Glen Head, New York; Metropolitan PGA Section (T-16)
Zac Oakley, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia PGA Section (T-16)
Kyle Mendoza, Oceanside, California; Southern California PGA Section (T-16)
Braden Shattuck, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia PGA Section (T-16)
Wyatt Worthington II, Las Vegas, Nevada; Southwest PGA Section (T-16)
Michael Block, the PGA Head Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California, finished tied for 39th but based on his memorable top 15 performance at the 2023 PGA Championship, he'll tee it up at Valhalla Golf Club as part of the Corebridge Financial Team.
Fields Ranch East turns fiesty on final day
The 2024 PGA Professional Championship was a marathon, plain and simple. Weather delays set back the early part of the Championship but split tees, and a cut to Top 70 versus Top 90 helped play catch back up for a May 1 evening finish, right on time.
Fields Ranch East, for the record, couldn't of cared less when the round finished and provided a stern test for the field from first tee shot to final putt. Polland was the only competitor to finish under par (2-under). Wells was the only member of the Corebridge Financial Team to shoot under par in the final round (70) and many scores were a handful of shots over par.
With the wind kicked up a notch, the East Course more firm and some pressure to go to the PGA Championship, it made for a fascinating final day. Bookmark Fields Ranch East as a demanding venue that rewards strong ballstriking for the next big event that rolls around: the KPMG Women's PGA Championship next summer.
Phillips, at 61, making PGA Championship debut
When you tune in to the PGA Championship in a few weeks, remember the name Tracy Phillips. He's been around the game for a while as the PGA Director of Instruction at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Oklahoma, and has quite the rapsheet of accomplishments: Low Club Professional at the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, a two-time South Central PGA Section Champion, a two-time Section Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year, the 1980 Junior PGA Champion (after finishing runner-up in 1979), Golf Digest's top-ranked junior golfer in 1979 . . . the list goes on and on.
But until this year, Phillips had never stuck a tee in the ground at a PGA Championship. He's played in four Senior PGAs, making the cut in two, but never the PGA Championship. The son of legendary PGA of America Golf Professional Buddy Phillips, Tracy was gritty and grinded out a final-round 75 to secure a T-8 finish.
After a bogey on the par-4 16th, he knew a birdie was needed. And he made one the very next hole, the short par-3 17th. A par on the final hole sealed his ticket to Valhalla. Phillips thought two years ago playing with Ernie Els at the Senior PGA was a "dream come true."
"This," he said on playing in the PGA Championship, "this is incredible."
Odds & ends
Ben Polland doesn't just take home the Walter Hagen Cup with his win; he also gets $60,000 for first place, six PGA TOUR exemptions and a spot on the U.S. PGA Cup Team. Not bad . . . six eagles, 840 birdies and 4,847 pars were made on Fields Ranch East during the Championship; there were also 2,173 bogeys . . . the East Course's 15th hole played the easiest at a 3.88 stroke average; the very next hole, the par-4 16th played the hardest at 4.64 stroke average . . . the state of Florida will be well represented at Valhalla: four of the PGA of America Members in the top 20 are from the North or South Florida Section.