PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Gene Fieger won the Senior PGA Professional National Championship on Friday, closing with a 3-under 69 for a six-stroke victory.
The 53-year-old Fieger, the PGA director of golf at Hideout Golf Club in Naples, Fla., finished at 13-under 275 at PGA Golf Club and earned $20,000 in the event postponed in October in Virginia because of rain and flooding. The top 35 earned spots in the Senior PGA Championship on May 22-25 at Harbor Shores in Michigan.
“I don’t play too many four-round tournaments, but this was a thrill,” Fieger said. “I broke 70 all four rounds. In this wind, that’s really an accomplishment. I felt at home all four days, and I’ve played here a lot. You get the lead and you just try to get the ball in the fairway and on the green. That’s what I tried to do most of the day. Except for a little stumble in the middle, I hit some great chip shots. It was thrilling.”
He closed with a bogey on the Wanamaker Course.
“I’ve always said it would be nice to come up the 18th hole with a six- or seven-shot lead,” Fieger said. “Then when you have one, you still feel tentative. I hit it over the green at 18, not wanting to go into the water. I had a bad lie near a drain behind the green and ended up hitting a poor chip and made a bogey.”
Don Berry had a 70 to finish second. The 53-year-old Berry, the PGA head professional at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park, Minn., birdied five of his last eight holes.
“It looks like I won the `B’ tournament,” Berry said. “I played well this week and actually made some putts on the back nine today. I didn’t really putt well all week until then. I can’t wait to go back to the Senior PGA Championship. I made the cut last year and had four good rounds. I’m looking forward to going back and giving it another shot.”
Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash.; Steve Parker of Houston; and Frank Esposito Jr. of Monroe Township, N.J., tied for third at 5 under. Coston had a 69, and Parker and Esposito shot 73.