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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:01 pm

Rod Perry wins PGA Professional

The Associated Press

Rod Perry won the PGA Professional National Championship on Wednesday at Sunriver Resort, shooting a 3-under 69 for a three-stroke victory.

The 39-year-old Perry, the PGA head pro at Crane Lakes in Port Orange, Fla., had four birdies and a bogey on the Crosswater Club course to finish at 10-under 277. He earned $75,000, spots in six PGA Tour events over a 12-month period and topped the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship in August at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.

"This is by far the biggest win of my career. It's huge," said Perry, the first left-hander to win the tournament. "Winning that PGA Player of the Year Award in 2012 made me think for a second, `Hey, maybe I am one of the better players in the PGA, and maybe I can compete on a consistent basis.'

"Finishing second last year at Bayonet Blackhorse, I know I didn't play my best. I felt if I could play a bit better, maybe I would have a chance. Thankfully, not one of our great players get hot like Matt Dobyns did last year. It left the gates open and I was able to come through."

Ryan Polzin finished second at 7 under, closing with a double bogey for a 71. The 33-year-old Polzin is the PGA head pro at Royal Oaks in Houston.

"To make the PGA Championship is a dream come true," Polzin said. "At the beginning of the week it was a dream of mine to play in a tour event, and to make the first one a PGA Championship is unbelievable."

Perry opened with an 8-under 63 on the Meadows course and added rounds of 72 and 73 at Crosswater to enter the final day a stroke behind leaders Mark Sheftic and Chip Sullivan.

Perry rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 15th with a birdie on the par-5 16th, holing a 15-footer minutes after Polzin pulled even with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.

"I looked at the scoreboard after I bogeyed 15, which is something that I normally don't do," Perry said. "I saw Polzin birdied 16 and when I got to the green at 16, I saw him make a fist pump after a great birdie at 17. So, I stepped over my putt at 16 and knew that I had to make it."

Polzin hooked his drive on the par-4 18th into deep grass left of the fairway, took an unplayable lie and ended up with the double bogey.

"I felt like had a chance," Polzin said. "Then, standing on the tee at 18, I had hit a good drive there every day. But, I got quick and the emotions got to me a little bit and yanked it left, and made double bogey. I am not going let that get me down. It was a magical week for me."

Perry parred the final two holes, two-putting from 20 feet on No. 18.

"The greens were relatively soft and you knew you had to play well,' Perry said. "You are always traversing the Deschutes River. Trouble is lurking at all times. You have to put the tee ball in play, shaping the shots consistently and eliminating that big mistake."

Jeff Sorenson had a 71 to finish third at 5 under. The 34-year-old Sorenson is a PGA teaching professional at Columbia Golf Club in Minneapolis.

Sullivan, the 2007 winner at Sunriver, and Sheftic each shot 76 to tie for fourth at 4 under with three-time champion Mike Small (72) and JC Anderson (67).

The 38-year-old Sheftic is a PGA teaching pro at Merion in Ardmore, Pa.; the 48-year-old Sullivan is the PGA director of golf at Hanging Rock in Salem, Va.; the 47-year-old Small is the golf coach at the University of Illinois; and the 51-year-old Anderson is a PGA teaching pro at Mid-Rivers Golf Complex in St. Peters, Mo.

Kirk Hanefeld earned a spot in the PGA Championship at the age of 57, closing with a 73 to tie for ninth at 1 under. The two-time Senior PGA Professional National Championship winner is the PGA director of instruction at Renaissance in Haverhill, Mass.

The final three spots in the PGA Championship were decided in a six-player playoff.