By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to PGA of America
Joshua Rackley thought his chances of winning Event No. 5 of the PGA Tournament Series ended Friday when he missed a 5-foot birdie putt at the easy par-5 16th hole.
Until he made a 50-foot birdie at the difficult par-3 17th hole.
Crazy game, this sport of golf.
Rackley added a birdie at the closing hole and shot a bogey-free 66 on the Wanamaker Course to claim his first PGA Tournament Series title at PGA Golf Club. He finished at 7-under 137.
“When I made that putt (at 17), I was thinking it was because I had just missed the 5-footer at 16 even though I hit a good putt,” said Rackley, a PGA Assistant Professional at Tam O’Shanter Golf Club on Long Island. “It all works out in the end.”
It worked out for Rackley because Bob Sowards, for a change, didn’t make a birdie putt on the 18th hole. Sowards (68), who won and lost a playoff in his last two PGA Tournament Series events, came up just short of his birdie and finished a shot behind, tied for second with Cian Curley (68) of Naples.
“I played good. The golf course played really hard,” said Sowards, the PGA Professional at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio. “My mindset was to get to 7 (under). I figured the worst I could be was in a playoff. I just couldn’t get there.”
Sowards clinched the PGA Tournament Series money title with $12,820 (Jeff Sorenson is second at $7,695), despite missing the first event while playing in the final stage of the PGA Tour Champions q-school. It’s the third time the 50-year-old Sowards has won the money title.
“I don’t think about (money title),” he said. “I just try to win. The money title will take care of itself. My wife probably thinks about it.”
2018 PGA Professional Champion Ryan Vermeer matched Rackley’s 66 and tied for fourth with Sorenson (69) at 139. Frank Esposito (68) and Steven Delmar (71) tied for sixth.
First prize was worth $5,000 for Rackley.
“It’s a good feeling,” Rackley said. “It was part of my goals this winter. I really wanted to win one of these.”
The PGA Tournament Series is presented by GolfAdvisor.com.
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