Six titles on the line as Southern California PGA tournaments begin
The proverbial shotgun has sounded, and the heart of the Southern California PGA tournament season is now under way.
Six major events – beginning with the Super Senior Section Championship, which tees off today – will take place across Southern California over the next five weeks.
Here’s a look at the titles that are up for grabs:
Super Senior Section Championship
Gary Sowinski, a PGA Professional who teaches at the Hodges Learning Center in Escondido, will try to win his fourth title in a row. The 36-hole, stroke-play event takes place at the Victoria Club in Riverside August 18-19. Sowinski, who also has a Senior Section Championship title to his credit from 2016, overcame a one-stroke deficit last year in the final round to secure his third-straight win.
Jeff Hart, a lifetime member of the PGA, had a banner year in 2019, capturing Senior and Section championship titles – the first golfer to accomplish that feat since Chris Starkjohann did it in 2010. Hart will attempt to repeat his winning ways and claim a stake of the $15,000 purse when the Senior Championship tees off at Soboba Springs Golf Course August 24-25 in a 36-hole stroke-play event. Hart fired matching rounds of 64 in the 2019 event at Oak Valley Golf Club to win by six shots.
Gunnar Wiebe of Bel-Air Country Club navigated the narrow, tree-lined fairways at Glendora Country Club to win the 2019 title with a 3-under-par performance over two rounds. This year the tournament moves to Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont, where participants will compete for a $6,000 purse in a 36-hole, stroke-play event.
Southern California Open
Colin Featherstone of Vista went wire-to-wire to capture the 2019 edition of Southern California Open at Industry Hills Golf Club, posting a three-day score of 205, 10-under par. The 2020 event, which was originally scheduled in March, will be played at two Coachella Valley courses September 1-3, with the first and third rounds being played on The Players course at Indian Wells Golf Resort, and the second round on the Firecliff course at Desert Willow Golf Resort.
The tournament dates back to 1913, and was brought back to life in 2013, when Monarch Beach Golf Links PGA General Manager Eric Lohman, working with the Southern California PGA, volunteered to host the event and assist with fund-raising.
“It’s one of the oldest professional events is Southern California,” Lohman said. “Some of the best golfers to have ever played the game have won the event, including numerous PGA Tour winners. The three years we hosted it at Monarch Beach a current or former PGA tour player won the event and numerous top amateurs, collegians, and Southern Californian golf professionals participated.”
The tournament, which is open to amateurs and professionals, is on a roll now, and will boast its largest purse to date at $100,000.
“It’s the Southern California Open and we feel obliged to continue to produce a championship everyone can play,” said Tom Addis III, Executive Director and CEO of the Southern California PGA. “The players like it because of the additional opportunity to compete with their peers.”
PGA Life Member Jeff Hart capped a brilliant 2019 by winning the Section Championship at The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang, after nabbing the crown in the Senior Championship. But it wasn’t easy. Hart and Brian Smock of Coronado Golf Course tied at 196 after 54 holes, and went into a sudden-death playoff. Hart won the tournament after Smock hit his tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 10th hole, and Hart made par to secure the victory.
Two Coachella Valley courses – The Players course Indian Wells Golf Resort and the South course at Ironwood Country Club – will play host to the 2020 tournament September 14-16, with a $90,000 purse on the line.
Women’s Section Championship
Lehua Wise of The Hideaway Golf Club notched her third Women’s Section Championship with a victory at Monarch Beach Golf Links in 2019, overcoming a three-shot deficit in the final round. She also won titles in 2011 and 2016. The 2020 tournament will be held at the Pete Dye Course at The Hideaway Golf Club September 23-24.
For more information, CLICK HERE to check out the Southern California PGA Championship Preview.
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