#TEAMOF20 Set for PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course
Two Michigan Section PGA players – Ben Cook, PGA of Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, and Tim Pearce, PGA of Birmingham Country Club – will be playing with the top players in the world in the 2021 PGA Championship next month at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
Cook, the Director of Instruction at Yankee Springs and last year’s Michigan PGA Professional Champion, finished third alone Wednesday in the PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac, Club Car and Rolex at the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Meanwhile Pearce, an Assistant Professional at Birmingham and the 2019 Michigan PGA Assistant’s champion, finished tied for eighth to earn his shot in golf’s next major championship.
The low 20 scorers in the national championship for PGA of American golf professionals earned berths in the 2021 PGA (May 20-23) at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
Cook shot a closing 74 for a 6-under 281 total. He will be playing in his third consecutive PGA Championship as a top 20 PGA Professional Championship qualifier.
Pearce shot a closing 77 for even-par 287. He will be in his first PGA Championship and was playing in his first PGA Professional Championship.
Cody Haughton, an Assistant Professional from Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak, who shot a closing 76 for 288, just missed the top 20. He bowed out in a playoff for the final four spots.
Omar Uresti, a 52-year-old former PGA Tour player and lifetime PGA of America member from Austin, Tex., shot a final 76 for 276 and the win. He also won the title in 2017.
The Golf Channel carried live coverage of the final round and Pearce had the most emotional celebration for finishing in the top 20. He was clearly emotional as he was greeted by his caddie, Trent Courtright, and family members who came to the championship following his final par on No. 18.
“I was cool, calm and collected for whatever many holes and then I just had to let it out,” he said. “I kept it all inside. It was big for me – my first appearance here, and there were camera’s everywhere and I haven’t dealt with that kind of thing before. My family was here and my buddy from my days at Ferris was on the bag. It all just came out naturally.”
ESPN also did an interview with Pearce. The 25-year-old pro who is in his third year at Birmingham CC, said he was asked what it would be like to hit balls next to Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth next month.
“I didn’t even think about that until then,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of PGA (Tour) pros and they are all nice guys and great players. It will be fun to see how I stack up against them and see what kind of things I can do in that environment. I mean hitting balls next to Rory or DJ (Dustin Johnson) or any of those guys will truly be special.”
Pearce said a key birdie putt that hung on the edge before dropping at No. 17 was a remarkable moment.
“There was something about that putt,” he said. “I felt it had to drop and I didn’t go up to the hole to watch it. I was thinking if this is going to happen, this ball will go in the hole. That putt was pretty much everything for me.”
Cook lamented three double-bogeys during the tournament but was pleased with his play overall and earning a spot in the PGA Championship for the third time.
“Hopefully the third time is the charm,” he said. “If you told me at the start of the week that out of 312 people I would be third overall and going to another PGA I would have been a happy man, so all in all a good week.”
Cook, 27, is headed home to Michigan this week. His status on the Latino American PGA Tour was enhanced last month with a tie for fourth in Mexico and he will play in four more events, three in June and one in July. Otherwise, he will be working and teaching at Yankee Springs and plans to defend his Michigan PGA Professional Championship title in August at Prestwick Village Golf Club in the historic 100th playing of the tournament.
“I’m really pleased with the way I’m playing,” he said. “The last two to three months I’ve played some of the best golf of my life for sure. I was second in a mini-tour event last week at 12-under. I feel like I’m making progress with my career, for sure.”
The Michigan Section PGA had a big contingent in the starting field of 312 with 13 players. In addition to Cook, Pearce and Haughton the field included John Seltzer of Seltzer Golf Academy in Grand Rapids, Adam Schumacher of Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Josh Fryer of Franklin Hills Country Club, Chad Kurmel of Spartan Golf Academy in East Lansing, Gary Lewandowski of Tullymore Golf Resort in Canadian Lakes, Scott Brotebeck of Flint Golf Club, Kyle Martin of Lochmoor in Grosse Pointe Woods, Scott Hebert of Traverse City Golf & Country Club, Jeff Roth of Boyne Golf Academy in Harbor Springs and Al Kuhn of The Fountains in Clarkston.