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There wasn’t anyone holding a golf club able to stop Omar Uresti’s Sunday march to the 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship. So, Mother Nature rudely interrupted Uresti just as he prepared to polish a gem of a performance at PGA Golf Club.
A loud thunderclap preceded Uresti lining up a par putt on the 18th green, and he responded by nudging his 10-foot attempt left of the hole. Uresti tapped in for bogey to close a 3-under-par 69 on the Wanamaker Course for a six-stroke triumph and -- despite the approaching storm -- set the 72-hole scoring record of 18-under-par 269.
Uresti, a 51-year-old PGA Life Member from Austin, Texas, earned a first-place prize of $26,000 from a total purse of $318,000 and became the fourth player to win both a PGA Professional Championship (2017) and a Senior PGA Professional national title.
“It’s always fun to come here, it’s comfortable,” said Uresti. “I like the golf courses and they seem to like me a little bit. I’m honored to do that (set a scoring record). It’s been a long time since I’ve had four good putting rounds together.”
Uresti built a six-stroke lead through 54 holes and found things weren’t as cozy as anticipated. Playing one hole ahead, defending champion Scott Hebert of Traverse City, Michigan, went on tear between Holes 5 through 13 with six birdies to trim the deficit to four strokes.
Hebert was derailed, however, with a bogey at No. 14 for the second straight day and parred out to finish a 67 and runner-up at 275.
Paul Stankowski, a PGA Life Member from Flower Mound, Texas and playing in Uresti’s group, made his bid with birdies on Holes 7, 8, 9 and 11. He holed a 40-foot pitch on No. 9 and against the deficit was four strokes.
“Paul got off to a smoking start, making that great pitch shot for birdie at nine. I made a good par putt there just to keep things from going further down for me,” said Uresti. “With Paul and then Scott going after it, I was feeling the nerves and decided I had better get going then and there.”
Uresti caught his own spark, making a solid wedge approach on No. 10 and two-putted for par. Then, made consecutive birdies on Holes 11 through 13. “That settled me down,” said Uresti.
Stankowski finished with a 68 to share third at 276 with 2018 Champion Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio (70). Jeff Schmid of Iowa City, Iowa (69) and Walt Chapman of Knoxville, Tennessee (70), shared fifth place at 279.
Uresti’s PGA Professional Championship and Senior PGA Professional Championship victories place him in an elite foursome that includes Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah (1995 and 2016), Sowards (2004 and ’18), and Hebert (2008 and ’19).
And, Uresti also etched his name in another page of the Championship record book. He matched the winning score to par (18-under) by 2009 Champion Bill Britton of Red Bank, New Jersey.
PGA Golf Club has now hosted 13 Senior PGA Professional Championships since 2001. Most observers on site were wondering if there has been a more dominant effort.
“It will take probably a few more strokes under par once we all return here next April (25-28) for the PGA Professional Championship,” said Uresti, who will be part of the 360-player field. “I’m just happy to have had this kind of week here.”
Hebert, the PGA Head Professional at Traverse City Golf and Country Club, once again proved that the longest hitters aren’t always the clutch performers. One of the most successful Michigan PGA Section performers every, Hebert averages around 250 yards off the tee “in the air,” he said. He arrived at PGA Golf Club this week brimming with confidence.
“I felt great and I can’t say enough about the golf courses,”said Hebert. “They’re just unbelievable. Bermuda isn’t my best surface. I got into a heater in the middle of the round, but then stalled with another bogey at 14. That hole and me…..just hard to get a par there.
“Omar was just too strong, too good. Fantastic for him and congrats to him.”
Uresti led a delegation of the top 35 finishers earning berths in the 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, to be contested May 25-30, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship was supported by Golf Channel & John Deere.