Matt Dobyns wins PGA Professional
SEASIDE, Calif. (AP)
Matt Dobyns completed a runaway victory Wednesday in the PGA Professional National Championship, closing with a 2-under 70 on the Bayonet course for a record eight-stroke margin.
The 34-year-old Dobyns, the PGA head professional at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., finished at 13-under 275. The former University of Texas player shot a 68 at Black Horse on Sunday, and followed with rounds of 68 and 69 at Bayonet to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.
''This is the biggest tournament I've ever won,'' Dobyns said. ''It'll probably be the biggest tournament I ever win. I'm trying to cherish every single second, but it's hard because everything is going so quickly.''
Hall of Famer Sam Snead, the PGA Tour's career victory leader, had the previous largest victory in the event, winning by five strokes in 1971.
''I don't know how that happened,'' Dobyns said. ''To be mentioned in the same breath with Sam Snead in any comparison is both humbling and exciting.''
The top 20 earned spots in the PGA Championship in August at Kiawah Island. Dobyns also received $75,000 and six PGA Tour exemptions over a 12-month period.
Rod Perry, the PGA head professional at Crane Lakes Golf Course in Port Orange, Fla., and Kelly Mitchum, a PGA assistant professional at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, tied for second. Perry shot a 69, and Mitchum had a 71.
''Matt played so solid. We were all playing for second,'' Mitchum said. ''Matt and I played nine holes in a practice round Friday, and then to get paired with the champion in the final round is pretty ironic.''
Michael Frye, a PGA assistant professional at Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona, Ariz., won an eight-player playoff for the final spot in the PGA Championship. He advanced with a par on the third playoff hole.
Dobyns is the seventh Metropolitan PGA Section member to win the event and the player to win in his first start in the tournament.
''This golf course just fit my eye,'' Dobyns said. ''I had control of my golf swing, and I can't tell you why. When I got here, I felt in control. The hard shots didn't feel that difficult. I'm going to look back at the tape, because something has to be different.''
Darrell Kestner, the 1996 champion who finished 13th Wednesday, hired Dobyns as an apprentice 2009 at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., and remains his coach.
''I'm glad the rest of the golfing community could see what this kid can do,'' Kestner said. ''For three years at Deepdale, I saw some amazing stuff. I knew that he was one of the best playing club professionals in the country three years ago. For him to finally get his due, I feel very prideful for him.''
The 58-year-old Kestner closed with a 74 to earn his 10th trip to the PGA Championship and qualify for a major championship in a fifth decade. He competed in the first of his eight U.S. Opens in 1979.