Beach wins PGA Professional as 20 pros qualify for Bethpage

In battle of New York club pros, Alex Beach wins PGA Professional Championship as 20 pros qualify for PGA Championship at Bethpage

BLUFFTON, S.C. -- Alex Beach seized control with three straight birdies on the front nine and closed with a 3-under 69 to hold off Danny Balin and win the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday.

They were among 20 club pros who earned spots in the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black.

Beach, an assistant pro at Westchester Country Club in New York, had a one-shot lead when he hit his approach from the left rough over the trees to a back pin, stopping it 7 feet away for birdie on the 15th hole. He closed with three solid pars at Belfair Country Club to finish at 10-under 277.

Balin, the head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club in New York, closed with a 71.

Rich Berberian Jr. tied for sixth and qualified for the PGA Championship for the fourth consecutive year, the longest active streak among club pros.

Matt Dobyns had a chance to make five straight appearances in the major championship until he pulled his approach into a hazard on the 17th hole, chipped 15 feet by the hole and wound up with a double bogey. Dobyns closed with a 76 and wound up in a six-man playoff for the last two spots in the PGA Championship.

Andrew Filbert was the first to advance when he holed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole.

Dobyns appeared to be in trouble on the par-5 12th when he pulled his second shot toward the hazard in a cluster of pines. But he had a big enough gap to chip through the trees onto the green to 12 feet, and he holed the birdie putt. Tyler Hall made his 5-foot birdie to extend the playoff.

Both were in trouble off the tee, and Dobyns missed a 35-foot par putt up the slope. Hall, who was in a bunker off the tee blocked by a tree, came out short and hit wedge some 20 feet beyond the hole. He raised his fist when the putt dropped for birdie, sending him to Bethpage Black.

No one had it tougher than Matt Lohmeyer, who started the final round three shots out of the lead. Even with a pair of 7s on his card — a double bogey on the par-5 seventh and a quadruple-bogey on the par-3 14th, Lohmeyer was in position to finish among the top 20 until he finished with consecutive double bogeys for an 80.

Defending champion Ryan Vermeer closed with a 72 and tied for eighth, sending him to the PGA Championship for the third straight time.

Other club professionals who earned a spot at Bethpage Black were Stuart Deane, Jason Caron, Ben Cook, Rod Perry, Jeffrey Schmid, Marty Jertson, Casey Russell, Brian Mackey, Rob Labritz, Craig Bowden, Justin Bertsch, John O'Leary, Cory Schneider and Craig Hocknull.