Rich Berberian Jr. wins PGA Professional Championship
VERONA, N.Y. (AP) Rich Berberian Jr. rallied to win the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday, holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory.
The 28-year-old Berberian, a PGA assistant professional from Derry, New Hampshire, topped the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship next month at Baltusrol in New Jersey.
Berberian shot a 3-under 69 at Turning Stone's Atunyote Golf Club, overcoming a triple bogey on the par-5 12th with birdies on the par-4 13th, par-3 16th and the par-5 18th. He finished at 11-under 277.
Former PGA Tour player Omar Uresti, the second- and third-round leader, had a chance to force a playoff, but missed a 15-foot birdie try. The 47-year-old Uresti, from Austin, Texas, had a 73 to tie for second with Mark Brown (71) of Oyster Bay, New York. Brown birdied the 18th.
Berberian missed the green with his second shot on 18, and had to chip from thick rough on the left side. His ball slide down a ridge, leaving an uphill slider that he holed.
''I didn't think I threw it away, but knew I wasn't in the driver's seat,'' Berberian said. ''I knew Omar or Mark had just moved into a position to take me out. That was a putt I could probably three-putt more times than I could two-putt. That's why I'm spaced out because I can't believe it went in.''
Berberian earned $75,000 and became the second New England PGA Section Member to win the Walter Hagen Cup since Bob Lendzion in 1986. Berberian is the second-youngest winner, just 15 days older than Howell Fraser in his 1968 victory.
Berberian pulled his tee shot into the deep rough on 12th, then hit a provisional ball into the water bordering the right side of the fairway. He had a double bogey on the hole Tuesday.
''I hit that shot so bad, so far left, I had to laugh'' Berberian said. ''I had to get over it. The next hardest shot was the two-putt from 70 feet. So, when I got to 13, I was a little frustrated. I knew it was playing long. I hit a good drive and that is what got me back in it. I thought, `My swing still works.'''
Josh Speighht (65) of Locust Hill, Virginia, and 2013 winner Rod Perry (71) of Port Orange, Florida, tied for fourth at 7 under.
Karen Paolozzi shot a 70 to tie for seventh at 9 under and break her own event record - a tie for 49th in 2014 - for the best finish by a female player. The 35-year-old Paolozzi elected to play at a shorter yardage than the men, making her ineligible for a spot in the PGA Championship.
''It feels good to finish with a couple of birdies there,'' said Paolozzi, a former Indiana University player who lives in Atlanta. ''I came into this week just wanting to make the cut. I had no expectations of finishing this high. This was just thrilling.''
Ashley Grier, the other female player in the field, missed the cut.