High Stakes in the 62nd Southwest PGA Championship
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – September 6, 2019 – Winning the Southwest PGA Championship alone is a great accomplishment given the past champions whose names are engraved on the trophy. Throw in a Waste Management Phoenix Open exemption to the winner, and for the first time, combine it with the National PGA Professional Championship (PPC) Qualifier, and you have yourself quite a championship. That’s what’s at stake when the 62nd Southwest PGA Championship/PPC gets underway September 9-11 at Mesa (Ariz.) Country Club.
“It’s the tournament I look forward to all year,” said defending champion Michael Hopper. “Obviously the Phoenix Open exemption is a big deal and this year with the combined PPC and the national qualifier spots it’s huge. There is a lot on the line and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Formally two separate events, the PPC is now combined with the Southwest PGA Championship and will be moving forward at the request of the PGA of America.
Hopper, 35, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Lookout Mountain Golf Club, won last year’s Southwest PGA Championship after posting a record-setting 54-hole total of 196 (-20), that included a 9-under-par 63 in the opening round. His margin of victory was four strokes over past champion Jesse Mueller, 36, PGA Director of Golf at Grand Canyon University G.C., and Matt VanCleave, 37, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club. Hopper also set records for low 36-hole total, low first round total and best start by a winner.
With a victory, the two-time Southwest PGA champion Hopper would become the ninth Professional to win back-to-back titles, a feat last accomplished by Dean Vomacka in 2008 and 2009.
The Southwest PGA Championship/PPC is the final major, and event, of the 2019 season. It is crucial in the race for Southwest PGA Player of the Year honors with only the Championship and the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open left remaining to earn points. Hopper currently leads Marty Jertson, 39, PGA Professional and Vice President of Fitting & Performance at PING Golf, by 29 points and Dennis Downs, 37, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at Eagles Nest Golf Club, by 52 points.
Last month Hopper earned the Southwest PGA’s exemption into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after he shot a 63 in the qualifier, one better than Jertson’s 64. The PGA Tour event takes place Oct. 3-6 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nev.
“With this being not only the final major but our last event of the year, there are a lot of player of the year points out there,” Hopper said about the player of the year race. “This is the biggest one of the year for all of us. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get over there and play.”
The starting field is comprised of 88 participants including nine past champions: Hopper (2018, 2014), Mueller (2017), Craig Hocknull (2016), Downs (2015), Paul Trittler (2013, 2007), 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 9-10, respectively, at 7:00 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10. Following 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 38 scorers plus ties for the final round on Wednesday, September 11.The winner of the 62nd Southwest PGA Championship will receive an exemption into the Waste Management Phoenix Open, scheduled to take place January 30 to February 2, 2020 at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.).
In addition, the top five (5) finishers, plus the Southwest PGA Player of the Year, advance to the 53rd PGA Professional National Championship, April 27-30, 2020 at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.
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