There are a variety of ways to earn your way into a PGA Tour event —
Finish in the Top 125 on the PGA Tour’s Money List
Win Three times on the Web.com Tour in One Season
Finish in the Top 25 on the Web.com Tour
Finish in the Top 10 of the event the week before
Earn a Spot through “Q” School (last year for this option)
Receive a Sponsor’s Exemption
Earn a spot through a Monday Qualifier and
Win the PING Southwest Section PGA Championship
Few people remember that the PGA of America (The Club Professional Association) and The PGA Tour (The Guys who play on TV) were once part of the same association. Through this prior relationship there are a variety of agreements whereby a club professional, working the market where a tour event is being held, has an opportunity to earn a spot directly into a PGA Tour Event. One of those opportunities occurs each year in Arizona and that spot was earned this year by Glenn Griffith of Tucson Golf Schools—but it wasn’t easy.
The Championship had a field of over 90 players that spent three days working their way around just over 7,000 yards of the North Course at the Gallery Golf Club. The depth of the field was extensive and the quality of play was fun to watch. Glen Griffith started the final day five shots off of the lead established by 2011 Section Champion Jon Stanley (at 7 under par) but Glen was able to post a bogey free round of 67 to get him to 9 under par. Being 5 shots off of the lead at the start of the day had Glen in the clubhouse well ahead of the leaders. It looked as if none of the other players were in a position to catch him and then the fireworks started. Jon Stanley and Travis Long both birdied the 15th. Long then birdied the 16th and eagled the drivable par 4 17th hole to get him to 9 under par. Not be left out of the excitement Jon attempted to drive the short par 4 17th, but lost his ball beyond the green—he “re-teed” drove to the front of the green and made the 80 foot putt for par! Jon was able to card a birdie on 18, that left him one shot off of the lead. Travis Long calmly parred the 18th to also finish at 9 under par and force the playoff.
Long and Griffith headed back to the tough par 4 18th. Driving it in a “deep” fairway bunker (see photo) Long made an incredible play that went just over the flagstick and carried into the deep rough. Griffith hit the fairway and with ice in his veins hit a beautiful approach shot to about 15 feet. Long had a difficult downhill pitch to a green that “ran away” from him and the only chance to keep it close to the pin would be to hit the flagstick. His aggressive play finished about 18 feet past the hole and left him with an uphill breaking putt that just trickled to the right as it got to the hole. This left Glen with two putts for the win, the championship and a spot.
Griffith said, “This was huge for me to win our Section Championship and what goes with it. The biggest thing for me was coming from behind to catch the leaders and just having an opportunity to win in a play-off. However, receiving an exemption into 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open is the best. It has been a longtime dream of mine to play in a PGA TOUR event.”