By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE (Dec. 17, 2019) – There are easier ways to win your first PGA Tournament Series event than to beat Bob Sowards, Frank Bensel and Dylan Newman in a playoff.
Sowards and Bensel rank among the all-time wins leader in the Series and Newman won this month’s first two events.
But that just made Tuesday’s victory sweeter for Australian Mick Smith, who emerged from the playoff with a par on the fourth hole on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club after Sowards’ par try lipped out. It was Smith’s first win in his fourth PGA Tournament Series start.
“It feels great to win,” said Smith, a 47-year-old PGA Teaching Professional from Washington County Golf Course in Hartford, Wisc. “I had never played with Bob before, but the guys told me about him last night. It was great to be paired with him.”
Smith made a 35-foot par putt at the 17th hole to shoot 2-under 70 and get into the playoff at 5-under 139. Smith made pars on each of the playoff holes to earn the $5,000 first prize.
“That was a huge putt on 17,” Smith said. “I made a double there yesterday, so that hole owes. When it’s your day, they tend to go in like that.”
Sowards, who won this weekend’s Indian River Grapefruit Pro-Am in Vero Beach, just missed winning Tuesday when his birdie on the third hole stopped an inch away. Sowards, who is from Dublin, Ohio, missed the green on the par-4 fourth and couldn’t save par.
“I just can’t hit that green,” said Sowards, a four-time winner of the PGA Professional Player of the Year. “It’s the biggest green on the property and I hit it 10 percent of the time. I three-putted 17 and that really hurt.”
Newman was 4-under on his front nine to take the lead, but he four-putted the 14th hole for a double bogey. He bogeyed the third hole of the playoff, but still clinched the Series money title with $16,070 (Joshua Rackley, who finished 50th Tuesday, is second at $10,608).
“It’s nice to win the money title,” said Newman of Greenwich, Ct.
Bensel had a chance to win in regulation, but bogeyed the 18th hole when his drive went into a penalty area. Bensel missed a 12-footer for par, and then bogeyed the first playoff hole
“I should have hit a 3-wood (instead of driver at 18),” Bensel said. “I thought I was tied and was trying to make a birdie.”
David Abolt (69) of Cuba, Mo., finished fifth at 4-under 140.
The PGA Tournament Series is presented by GolfAdvisor.com.
Pat Kravitz, PGA of America, 561-624-8581, firstname.lastname@example.org