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THE SOUTHWEST PGA CHAMPIONSHIP/PPC RETURNS TO WE-KO-PA
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The 66th edition of the Southwest PGA Championship/PPC gets underway Sept. 11-13 at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club’s Cholla Course in Fort McDowell, Ariz. In addition to the prestige of winning the title, the champion earns an exemption into the 2024 WM Phoenix Open. The event also serves as a qualifier for the National PGA Professional Championship (PPC).
Defending champion Michael Hopper returns having earned his third Southwest PGA Championship title last year after a seven-stroke victory over runner-up Derek Shelburne at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson. With a victory this year, Hopper would become the ninth Professional to win back-to-back titles, a feat last accomplished by Dean Vomacka in 2008 and 2009. He would also move into a tie with Scott Watkins for second with four Section Championship titles.
Hopper, PGA Head Golf Professional at Lookout Mountain Golf Club in Phoenix, won last year’s Southwest PGA Championship/PPC with a 54-hole total of 202 (63-70-69). His 63 in the opening round tied the lowest total for the first round and was the second lowest score in any round recorded in the history of the Championship.
"I look forward to competing in the Southwest PGA Championship every year as it’s an event that is always starred on my calendar," said Hopper. "The incentive for playing well and/or winning the Section Championship is incredible, including the PPC qualification and the WM Phoenix Open exemption. Having the opportunity to defend does not change anything for me leading into the event. The competition is always tough and I’ll need my best game to have a chance at winning it."
With three events remaining, Hopper sits in third place on the Southwest PGA Player of the Year points list, which is led by Jesse Mueller.
Mueller, PGA General Manager at Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, is once again having an outstanding year on the course. He won the first two majors of the 2023 Southwest PGA season with victories in the Springs Masters Championship and Match Play Championship, and finished tied for third in the Arizona Open Championship at Mesa Country Club. A two-time winner of the Section Championship, Mueller was not able to compete in 2022 due to his duties representing the United States in the 30th PGA Cup Matches against Great Britain & Ireland in Surrey, England.
We-Ko-Pa hosts the Southwest PGA Championship for the second time in the event’s history (2021). Both of the courses at We-Ko-Pa – Sagurao and Cholla – are fixtures on national publications Top 10 lists for best courses in Arizona. Golfweek’s most recent Best in State rankings has Sagurao as No. 1 in Arizona. The best public course title it has held for 16 of the last 17 years. Cholla came in at No. 9, making We-Ko-Pa the highest ranked 36-hole facility in the state. We-Ko-Pa previously hosted the Southwest PGA Assistant Championship, among other top events in Arizona.
"We-Ko-Pa is and has always been an incredible host," Hopper said. "They really go out of their way to give the event a championship feel, and that is even before the Section staff get on property. The care that the staff at We-Ko-Pa take to prepare the course, they started months ago, to make sure we have the best Championship possible is truly amazing. On top of the course, the fact the We-Ko-Pa community is adding to the event as a sponsor is incredible and greatly appreciated by all the participants."
The starting field is comprised of 92 participants including nine past champions: Hopper (2022, 2018, 2014), Dennis Downs (2015), Marty Jertson (2019), Mueller (2020, 2017), Paul Nolen (1995), Tony Rohlik (2005), Jon Stanley (2011), Vomacka (2009, 2008) and Jeff Yurkiewicz (2002).
The first and second rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 11-12, respectively, beginning at 7:30 a.m. off No. 1. Following 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 40 scorers plus ties for the final round on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
We-Ko-Pa’s partnership elevated the purse to record levels. The winner of the 66th Southwest PGA Championship receives an exemption into the WM Phoenix Open, scheduled to take place February 8-11, 2024 at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.). In addition, the estimated top five (5) finishers, plus the Southwest PGA Player of the Year, advance to the 2024 PGA Professional Championship scheduled to take April 28 - May 1 at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco (Tex.).
Leaderboard | Round 1 & 2 Groupings