PGA National Club Championship: Stewart Whitt successfully defends his championship
Stewart Whitt (PGA of America Photo)
Stewart Whitt (PGA of America Photo)

The 2023 PGA National Club Championship produced a trio of compelling finishes during Tuesday’s final round at Troon North Golf Club and Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The 54-hole championship featured three Men’s Divisions: Open (any age), Senior (50 plus years old), and Legend (60 plus years old) competing across Troon North Golf Club’s Monument and Pinnacle courses and Westin Kierland’s Ironwood/Acacia course.

Open Division

Stewart Whitt clinched the Men’s Open Division crown following a final-round 3-under-par 69. Tray Tyner emerged victorious in the Senior Men’s Division following a final-round 1-over-par 72. Bob Brooks registered a 1-over-par 73 to finish atop the Legend Men’s Division leaderboard.

Whitt recorded scores of 71-74-69 to capture a one-stroke victory in the Men’s Open Division at 1-under-par 214. Finishing tied for 2nd at even-par 215 were Michael Schnegelberger, Jordan Elsen, Matthew Johnson, and Barry O’Neill.

With the win, Whitt secured back-to-back Men’s Open Division titles following his victory at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in 2022.

“It’s really cool,” said Whitt. “This is the fourth year they’ve had it and to win two of the four and to do it back-to-back is really neat. It’s a great event and one that I look forward to playing in every time it comes around.”

Whitt began his final round on the Monument Course five strokes off the lead at T-9. Birdies at the par-4 first, par-5 third, and par-3 seventh holes began his climb up the leaderboard.  

The now two-time Champion posted a flawless, bogey-free 34 on the back-nine, highlighted by birdies at the par-3 No. 13 and par-4 No. 18. A 25-foot birdie putt at No. 18 sealed the win.

“The putter definitely kept me in it,” said Whitt. “I really didn’t hit it all that great today, but I missed it in the right spots to be able to get up and down when I needed to or have a good look at a birdie when the opportunity presented itself.”

Whitt looks forward to sharing his win with his club and PGA General Manager/Director of Golf Micky Wolfe, PGA.

“Micky is great,” said Whitt. “His family has had some difficult things going on recently. He is a fantastic human and does a great job for our golf course and the membership. With everything they’ve had going on, being able to have a little bright spot for the club that he cares so much about, it’s a privilege to be able to do that for them.”

Senior Division

Tyner battled throughout his final round at Troon North to finish at even-par and clinch a one-stroke victory over Shane McMillan, Chris Boquette, and Chris Hummel, who tied for second at 1-over-par.

“I enjoyed the day after it was over,” said Tyner. “I didn’t enjoy it too much the way it started. I hung in there and strung some birdies together at the end and got a little help from the other players.”

Tyner overcame a rollercoaster stretch that included a triple bogey on Pinnacle’s par-4 No. 3 and a double bogey on the par-4 No. 4. His son, Derek, who was one of several family members in attendance, served as his caddie and helped turn things around.

“We planned this since I knew I was coming here,” said Tyner. “He wanted to come caddie and it was a good vacation for him. He kept me settled down.”  

Tyner turned things around with a birdie at the par-5 No. 5 and caught fire down the stretch with birdies on Holes No. 14-17. His birdie at the par-4 No. 17 was the result of a roughly 25-foot putt that dropped.

“I just played solid golf,” said Tyner. “Even with the triple and double, I really didn’t hit a bad shot. I wasn’t even thinking about winning, I was just trying to make a few birdies and maybe come in the top five, but things happened and that’s golf.”

Tuesday’s win capped a memorable week for Tyner, who enjoyed the experience with his family as he competed at Troon North and Westin Kierland.

“The venues were unbelievable,” said Tyner. “The PGA does a great job finding great golf courses. You can’t find anything better than Troon North, I don’t think. It’s a really good test of how you’re playing.”

Legend Division

Brooks totaled rounds of 73-71-73 to finish at 2-over-par and win the Men’s Legend Division by two strokes over Brad Starr at 4-over-par. David Johnson finished third at 5-over-par.

“It felt fantastic,” said Brooks. “I finished second in the very first event. The next year I finished third and last year I finished second again. To finally get over the hump with a win was very gratifying.”

Brooks entered Tuesday’s final round in second place, trailing by one stroke. Playing in the final group at Westin Kierland, he started slowly with a pair of bogeys on the par-4 first and second holes. He righted the ship by tallying seven consecutive pars on holes 3-9, and made his first of three back-nine birdies at the par-5 10th hole.

Following a bogey on the par-4 no. 11 and three pars on Holes No. 12-14, he closed out the victory with birdie-bogey-birdie-par at Holes No. 15-18.  

“I really made some clutch putts the last five holes and two really good up and downs,” said Brooks. “I had about a 20-foot right to left with about a four and a half foot break on 14. I made that for birdie. On 17, I had a downhiller with about a three foot break from about 20 feet and I made that for a birdie. That really helped ease the nerves going into the last hole.”

Brooks relished the opportunity to compete with club champions from across the country.

“It was wonderful,” said Brooks. “Everybody was really nice. You could tell that everybody likes to compete. All the guys that I played with this week were gentlemen and real competitors. I look forward to seeing them all next year.”

The PGA National Club Championship features amateur club champions from across the country who were invited by their facility’s PGA of America Golf Professional to compete in the event. All champions receive a lifetime exemption into the PGA National Club Championship, and the top five finishers in each division will be invited to compete in next year’s championship.

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ABOUT THE PGA National Club Championship

The PGA National Club Championship brings together amateur club champions from golf courses across the country. Winners of club championships in a given year will receive an invitation to the PGA National Club Championship. The championship is a 3-day, 54 hole stroke play competition.

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