For the 20 club pros who punched a ticket to this year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, the road to Farmingdale began last July with their respective section’s PGA Professional Championship.
The top qualifiers from those tournaments were then eligible to compete in the national PGA Professional Championship (PPC), which was played at Belfair in Bluffton, S.C. on April 28 – May 1.
Over 300 professionals from around the country vied for 20 coveted spots in the upcoming PGA Championship. Cuts were made after 36 and 54 holes. Four rounds were played in all, and the lucky 20 were set in stone after a lengthy playoff for the final spot.
Here are the 20 PGA professionals who will be teeing it up alongside the Tour players at Bethpage Black this week.
1. ALEX BEACH
Club: Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York
Career highlights: Beach was the 2016 New Jersey PGA Player of the Year and the medallist at this year’s PPC. Bethpage will be his second PGA Championship appearance.
2. DANNY BALIN
Club: Fresh Meadow Country Club, Lake Success, N.Y.
Career highlights: Balin has six career top 10s on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, and is playing in his sixth PGA Championship. He has yet to make the cut in one, but should be feeling pretty good about Bethpage — he’s won the New York State Open there twice. He’s also coming off a runner-up finish at the PPC.
3. STUART DEANE
Club: Texas Star Golf Course, Arlington, Texas
Career highlights: Deane competed in both Australia and Asia as a professional before settling in the United States in 1996. He’s playing his third PGA Championship.
4. JASON CARON
Club: Mill River Club, Oyster Bay, N.Y.
Career highlights: Caron has over 63 starts on the PGA Tour dating back to 2000, but this week marks his first PGA Championship.
5. BEN COOK
Club: Johns Island Club, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Career highlights: Cook is a former DII All-American from Ferris State University and only just turned professional in 2017. He’s playing his first PGA Championship this week.
6. RICH BERBERIAN JR.
Club: Vesper Country Club, Tyngsborough, Mass.
Career highlights: This year marks Berberian Jr.’s fourth PGA Championship, though he also has 10 career starts on the PGA Tour.
7. ROD PERRY
Club: Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club, Port Orange, Fla.
Career highlights: The former Hooters Tour pro has competed in five PGA Championships prior to this week.
8. JEFFREY SCHMID
Club: Brown Deer Golf Course, Coralville, Iowa
Career highlights: Schmid is a former University of Iowa assistant men’s golf coach and is making his PGA Championship debut this week. He also qualified for this year’s Senior PGA Championship.
9. MARTY JERTSON
Club: Ping Golf, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz
Career highlights: Jertson is the Director of Product Development for Ping and is credited with the design of the G30, Anser, i20, and i25 drivers. He’s playing his fourth PGA Championship.
10. CASEY RUSSELL
Club: Golfcrest Country Club, Victoria, Texas
Career highlights: Russell played in the 2017 Valero Texas Open, missing the cut by two strokes. This is his first PGA Championship appearance.
11. BRIAN MACKEY
Club: Hollow Brook Golf Club, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
Career highlights: The 2018 New Jersey Player of the Year, Mackey played his first PPC this year and made it to his first PGA Championship.
12. RYAN VERMEER
Club: Happy Hollow Club, Omaha, Neb.
Career highlights: Vermeer won last year’s PPC and is playing in his third straight PGA Championship. He was the 2018 PGA Professional of the Year and has played 33 career events on the Web.com Tour.
13. ROB LABRITZ
Club: GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, N.Y
Career highlights: Like Danny Balin, Labritz will be comfortable at Bethpage Black, having won the New York State Open there three times (2008, 2011, 2016). He’s playing in his sixth PGA Championship this week, and made the cut at Whistling Straits in 2010.
14. CRAIG BOWDEN
Career highlights: Bowden has three career victories on the Web.com Tour and has made 150 starts on the PGA Tour. This year marks his second PGA Championship.
15. JUSTIN BERTSCH
Club: Hideout Golf Club, Naples, Fla.
Career highlights: This year was Bertsch’s first PPC, and now he’s heading into his first PGA Championship. In 2018, he was named the Southwest Florida Chapter PGA Player of the Year.
16. JOHN O’LEARY
Club: Trump National Golf Club Washington, Potomac Falls, Va.
Career highlights: O’Leary is playing in his first PGA Championship since 2007. He was the Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year in 2018.
17. CORY SCHNEIDER
Club: The Pointe Golf Club, Powells Point, N.C.
Career highlights: Schneider holds or has held six course records. The Methodist College alum is competing in his first PGA Championship this week.
18. CRAIG HOCKNULL
Club: Saber Golf, Gilbert , Ariz.
Career highlights: Hocknull invented and designed the Saber Cat putter and Saber Golf Trainer. He has now qualified for his second straight PGA Championship.
19. ANDREW FILBERT
Club: Royal Poinciana Golf Club, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Career highlights: Filbert was the 2017 South Florida PGA section Player of the Year and has played in three PGA Tour events. This is his first PGA Championship appearance.
20. TYLER HALL
Club: Upper Montclair Country Club, Clifton, N.J.
Career highlights: The University of Kansas alum played professionally for 11 years on numerous tours before pursuing a career as a club pro in 2014. Hall played in his first PPC this year and qualified for his first PGA Championship.
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