The day he was named Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honors, Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, celebrated the best way he knows how.
By winning another golf tournament.
Sowards shot a 2-under 69 Tuesday to win the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club. Sowards made four birdies and two bogeys on the Ryder Course to finish at 14-under 200, a stroke ahead of Mark Brown (68-201) of Oyster Bay, New York.
Earlier Tuesday, the PGA of America announced Sowards had won Senior PGA Professional of the Year for the third time, giving him seven POY awards overall to pass Sonny Skinner for the most all time. Sowards won PGA Professional Player of the Year four times.
Then the 53-year-old Sowards took a major step toward possibly earning an eighth Player of the Year award by holding off Brown.
“I just love to compete, and the PGA gives us a chance to compete here at the Winter Championships,” said Sowards, a PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio. “I love that feeling of nervousness when you’re in contention.
“It feels great to have won seven Player of the Year awards to move past Sonny, but I want to win more. I haven’t given up on winning a fifth ‘Junior’ title. I’m still setting goals.”
Sowards started the day with a two-shot lead and his goal was to go bogey free. He hit his first 12 greens, but 3-putted the seventh for a bogey. He bogeyed the 12th, but got that shot back with a birdie at the 13th.
Brown birdied the par-5 17th hole to get within a shot of Sowards, but both players parred the 18th.
“I played really good,” Sowards said. “It was tough out there. It was difficult to make putts.”
Rob Labritz (67-203) of Pound Ridge, New York, who recently earned full-exempt status on the PGA Tour Champions, was three shots back in third place. David Ladd (68-206) of West Palm Beach and Craig Thomas (71-206) of Port Chester, New York tied for fourth place.
James Mason of Dillard, Georgia, cruised to a five-shot victory in the 60-and-older Division with a 5-under 67 on the Wanamaker Course to finish at 13-under 202.
The 71-year-old Mason played his final nine holes in 4-under to gradually pull away for the victory over Gary Robison (71-207) of Port St. Lucie and Skinner (73-207) of Sylvester, Georgia. Mason’s only two bogeys were three putts.
“I played really well,” Mason said. “I drove it in play and hit a bunch of solid shots. It’s a good feeling to win at 71. I get a little advantage with the tees, but you’ve still got to put the ball in the hole.”
Second round leader Kirk Hanefeld shot 75 and finished fourth at 7-under 208, a shot ahead of Mike Gray (67-209) of Logansport, Indiana.
Tim Krapfel of Centerville, Ohio, made a hole-in-one in Monday’s second round, acing the 152-yard 12th hole on the Ryder Course with an 8-iron. Krapfel finished 11th.
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