Hocknull captures the 2017 Southwest PGA Professional Championship

After nine holes in the final round Southwest PGA Professional Championship (PPC) the four-stroke lead of Craig Hocknull was down to one. As the competitors chasing began to stumble, Hocknull shined, turning in a spotless back nine and captured the 2017 Southwest PGA Professional Championship held at The Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Ariz.

Hocknull, 42, PGA Director of Instruction at Outback Golf Academy, entered the final round with the four-shot lead over defending champion Dennis Downs and Ben Kreger, who Hocknull was paired with in the final group of the day.

“You can’t help but watch the guys chasing you,” said Hocknull. “Dennis (Downs) made three early birdies and Ben (Kreger) went on a nice run at the end of the front side. I just wasn’t making anything early on but was committed to playing my game and focus on the remaining holes.”

Downs, 34, PGA Director of Instruction at Reid/West Golf Academies (Pebble Creek), got off to a fast start making three consecutive birdies on the opening three holes, cutting Hocknull’s lead in half after Hocknull matched Downs’ birdie at the par-3 3rd hole.

As all three competitors made the turn, Hocknull’s lead was down to one as Kreger, 34, PGA Assistant Golf Professional at The Estancia Club, finished the front side with birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 9. Downs and Kreger both turned with a 33 to Hocknull’s even-par 36.

“I had to play some holes very strategically on a couple of occasions based on what Dennis or Ben did,” Hocknull said. “They both had great runs at different times but I knew as long as I stuck to the game plan it was going to work out for me in the end.”

The game plan did indeed work out for Hocknull as he finished the final nine holes with a bogey-free 33 that included birdies at Nos. 11, 16 and 17. With Kreger and Downs carding a 35 and 37, respectively on the closing nine holes, Hocknull earned the trophy finishing the final round with a 3-under-par 69 and a 54-hole total of 201 (-15). The victory is his second Southwest PGA Professional Championship title (2011) and earned him a trip to the national PPC next June.

Kreger finished alone in second place at 204 and Downs tied for third at 206.

The round of the day was turned in by Marty Jertson, who made two eagles on both par 5’s on the front side and almost eagled the final two on the back.

Jertson, 36, PGA Professional and Senior Design Engineer at PING Golf, finished with a 6-under-par 66 and were it not for a double-bogey at No. 18, the Championship may have ended differently.

Jertson finished tied for third with Downs at 206 and led the Championship over all three rounds with a 4.0 average on all the Par 5’s (-12). More importantly, Jertson earned one of the coveted qualifying spots to the national PPC.

Hocknull adds another trophy to an already impressive list of victories in the Southwest PGA, winning every major over his career: Southwest PGA Championship (2016), Southwest PGA Professional Championship (2011, 2017), Arizona Open Championship (2013) and the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship (2013). Hocknull was previously honored as the 2013 Southwest PGA Player of the Year and the 2014 Southwest PGA Teacher of the Year.

The 54-hole Southwest Professional Championship serves as a qualifier for the national PGA Professional Championship. The top six finishers, along with the Southwest PGA Player of the Year, earn a spot into the 51st PGA Professional Championship, scheduled to take place June 17-20, 2018 at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, California. The low 20 scorers in the 51st PGA Professional Championship will advance to the 100th PGA Championship, August 6-12, 2018, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo.

Qualifying for the national PPC are: Hocknull, Kreger, Jertson, Downs, Chris Dompier, 41, PGA Head Golf Professional at Skyline C.C., and Matt VanCleave, 35, PGA Head Golf Professional at Toka Sticks G.C., who earned the final spot in a playoff over Derek Shelburne from Desert Highlands G.C.

Southwest PGA Tournament Results
The 2017 Southwest PGA Professional Championship (PPC)
The Gallery Golf Club – Marana, Arizona
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

1 Craig Hocknull,Outback Golf Academy,68,64,69,201,-15,$5,000.00

2 Ben Kreger,Estancia Club,69,67,68,204,-12,$3,500.00

T3 Marty Jertson,PING Golf,69,71,66,206,-10,$2,000.00

T3 Dennis Downs,Reid / West Golf Academy,64,72,70,206,-10,$2,000.00

5 Chris Dompier,Skyline CC,69,69,69,207,-9,$1,400.00

T6 Derek Shelburne,Desert Highlands GC,73,67,68,208,-8,$1,250.00

T6 Matt VanCleave,Toka Sticks GC,65,72,71,208,-8,$1,250.00

8 Michael Hopper,Lookout Mountain GC,70,68,71,209,-7,$1,100.00

T9 Scott Frisch,Phoenix C.C.,72,68,70,210,-6,$975.00

T9 Mark Leibfried,Cottonwood CC,69,70,71,210,-6,$975.00

11 Jeff Yurkiewicz,Grayhawk GC,69,69,73,211,-5,$925.00

T12 Ralph West,Reid / West Golf Academy,74,70,68,212,-4,$887.50

T12 Philip Cardwell,Verde River Golf & Social,68,70,74,212,-4,$887.50

T14 Jesse Mueller,Grand Canyon U. GC,70,71,72,213,-3,$837.50

T14 Jason Magee,McCormick Ranch GC,71,69,73,213,-3,$837.50

T16 J. D. Lindberg,Ventana Canyon GC,71,73,70,214,-2,$787.50

T16 Greg Avant,Lone Tree Golf Club,70,75,69,214,-2,$787.50

18 Preston Otte,Highlands GC at Dove Mtn,69,73,73,215,-1,$750.00

T19 Michael Frye,Continental CC,73,72,71,216,E,$687.50

T19 Scott Brown,Alta Mesa Golf Club,74,71,71,216,E,$687.50

T19 Ben Weir,Red Mountain Ranch CC,70,74,72,216,E,$687.50

T19 Glen Griffith,Tucson Nat’l Resort,72,72,72,216,E,$687.50

23 Blayne Hobbs,Reid / West Golf Academy,74,70,73,217,+1,$625.00

T24 Derek Deminsky,Forty-Niner CC,73,72,73,218,+2,$587.50

T24 Luke Hemelstrand,Desert Mountain,72,69,77,218,+2,$587.50

26 Jon Morgan,Seville Golf & CC,72,74,73,219,+3,$550.00

27 Antonio Noriega,Saddlebrooke GC,76,68,76,220,+4,$525.00

28 David Engram,Mirabel Golf Club,75,71,75,221,+5,$500.00

T29 Travis Long,Anthem CC,71,75,76,222,+6,$450.00

T29 Josh Brown,Tucson El Conquislador GR,74,73,75,222,+6,$450.00

T29 Bradley Church,The Wynn Golf Club,72,73,77,222,+6,$450.00

32 Troy Helseth,Anthem GC,72,72,79,223,+7,$400.00

33 Bryson Hotchkiss,Firerock CC,74,72,81,227,+11,$400.00