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MUELLER TO DEFEND TITLE IN THE 61ST PING SOUTHWEST PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Last year Jesse Mueller made his first appearance in the PING Southwest PGA Championship and came away with the victory. He hopes his second start will be just as memorable when he defends his title in the 61st PING Southwest PGA Championship, scheduled to take place September 10-12 at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, Ariz.

“I am looking forward to competing and defending my title against all the great players in our Section,” said Mueller. “You have to be on top of your game to win any of the events in the Southwest PGA and the Section Championship will be no exception. Southern Dunes is one of the best golf courses in the state of Arizona and will provide a great test for the Championship.”

Due to his work commitments, Mueller, 35, PGA Director of Golf at Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, has only played in six Southwest PGA events in 2018, finishing no lower than 10th. He is coming off his best finish, a tie for second, in the 75th Arizona Open Championship held in August at Troon Country Club. With a victory, Mueller would become the ninth Professional to win back-to-back Southwest PGA Championship titles, a feat last accomplished by Dean Vomacka in 2008 and 2009.

Mueller won last year’s Southwest PGA Championship after posting a 54-hole total of 201 (-15), that included a pair of 66’s in the first and final rounds. His margin of victory was two strokes over past champion Dennis Downs, 36, PGA Director of Instruction at Reid/West Golf Academies (Pebble Creek). Mueller earned $7,000 for the victory and an exemption into the PGA Tour’s 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, held annually at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.).

“It was an honor to represent the Southwest PGA as our Section champion in last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open,” Mueller said. “It’s such an awesome event and with me growing up here in the valley I have been there a ton of times over the years. Being able to play in it was an awesome experience.”

With three events remaining, the PING Southwest PGA Championship is pivotal in the race for Southwest PGA Player of the Year honors. Craig Hocknull, 43, PGA Director of Instruction at Saber Sports Trainer, leads by 3 points over Matt VanCleave, 36, PGA Head Golf Professional at Toka Sticks Golf Club. Michael Hopper, 34, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Lookout Mountain Golf Club, is currently in third place, 52 points behind Hocknull.

The 2018 starting field is comprised of 75 participants including, eight past champions that includes: Mueller (2017), Hocknull (2016), Downs (2015), Hopper (2014), Glen Griffith (2012), Jon Stanley (2011), Jeff Yurkiewicz (2002) and Mike Franko (1993).

The first and second rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, September 10 and 11, respectively, at 7:30 a.m. off hole Nos. 1 and 10. Following 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 32 scorers plus ties for the final round on Wednesday, September 12.

The winner of the 61st PING Southwest PGA Championship will receive an exemption into the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, scheduled to take place January 31st to February 3rd, 2019 at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.).

Long-time Southwest PGA partner PING Golf will once again be the title sponsor of the Southwest PGA Championship. Their continued support of the Southwest PGA and the Championship has elevated purse levels every year.

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