4 Local Pros Play Their Way Into Whistling Straits PGA Championship

Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge will be represented in 2015’s fourth major tournament.

Matt Dobyns, head Pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success won his second PGA National Championship in four years this week by nipping another Met Section pro, Ben Polland from Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, by one stroke at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. The two not only earned nice checks from the $550,000 purse, but spots in the field for the PGA Championship to be played at Whistling Straits in August. Two other Met Section pros will join them.

Grant Sturgeon of Mamaroneck’s famous Winged Foot, winner of the 2014 Met Open and Met PGA Player of the Year, tied for third in Philadelphia to punch his ticket to the major for the second time. He also played in 2009.

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Grant Sturgeon of Mamaroneck’s Winged Foot Golf Club

Brian Gaffney, head pro at Quaker Ridge, birdied the first hole of a five-man playoff to earn his berth in the PGA Championship. Gaffney is no stranger to major tournament play, having competed in the PGA in 2000, 2009, and 2012.

Brian Gaffney of Quaker Ridge in Scarsdale

Dobyns won the title by sinking a three-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to top Polland who collapsed with a disastrous double bogey on the hole. Dobyns had trailed by two strokes going into the hole and his putt marked the first time in four rounds he had the lead.  Dobyns closed with a total of three-under-par 279, while Polland wrapped up with a 280 in his first go at the championship. They were the only players who finished under par.

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 “I knew if I didn’t hit a good tee shot or make birdie the tournament was over,” said Dobyns. “I hit it hard and off the bunker, and it went about 300 yards and ended up in the middle of the fairway. He made a mistake off the tee and had a bad break in the left fairway bunker. When he hit the ball and it went into the water, I was shocked. I felt really bad for him, because I know Ben and know him well. He works in the same club that I worked for years and for the same mentor.”  Both worked for 1996 PGA National Champion Darrell Kestner.

Two other local pros, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor and Steve Scott of Paramount, were in contention through most of the tournament, but slipped in the final round. Twenty club pros from around the country won spots in the PGA Championship.

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