Standing on the first tee of the final round of the 54 hole PING Southwest Section PGA Championship, Glen Griffith found himself five shots behind the defending Champion, Jon Stanley. “The first hole I skanked my drive out there but I wasn’t really nervous, I just miss hit it, after that I settled down and it was solid the rest of the round.” Solid it was, as the Director of Instruction for Tucson Golf Schools, Griffith went on to fire a 5-under par 67 that included five birdies and no bogeys.
The Gallery Golf Club (North course) in Marana, AZ played host to this year’s PING Southwest Section PGA Championship. This championship par 72 layout in the Tortolita Mountains played over 7,100 yards for the Championship.
At the turn during the final round Griffith was not even on the radar to win the championship. It appeared that it was going to be a battle between the last group of players consisting of local Head Professional Brandon Smith from Ventana Canyon, defending Champion Jon Stanley from Phoenix and Travis Long, Head Professional at Anthem Country Club in Las Vegas.
However, Smith hooked his tee shot on the ninth tee into the desert taking an unplayable lie and scoring a double bogey to dash his hopes of winning. Then Long proceeds to triple bogey the tenth hole that would appear to knock him out of contention. Stanley then birdies the 11th hole and now it’s up in the air as to who is going to take control of the lead.
All along Griffith is playing a steady bogey free round finishing with birdies on the 16th and 17th hole to take the lead in the clubhouse at 9-under par. Stanley and Long both birdie the par 3, 15th hole and that’s when it got crazy! Long proceeded to birdie the 16th, drove the par 4, 17th hole and sunk the eagle putt to tie Griffith in the clubhouse with one to go. Stanley hits it over the par 5, 16th hole in two, taking an unplayable lie and scoring a bogey 6. He then drove it 330 yards just to the right of the green on 17th hole and lost his ball, having to go back to the tee, he drove it on the green and sunk an 80 foot putt to save par. On the 18th green Stanley birdies to finish a shot back of Griffith, Long hit his approach shot to within seven feet of the hole needing to make the putt for the win, but leaves it short, forcing a play-off with Griffith.
They head backed to the 18th tee to decide the winner. Griffith teed off first, driving it down the right center of the fairway in perfect shape as Long hit it through the fairway, into a deep fairway bunker with a difficult approach shot. As his play predicted throughout the day, Griffith responded with his approach shot landing 15 feet from the hole putting the pressure on Long. As Long struck the ball clean out of the fairway bunker, it looked as if was going to be a great shot, but landed deep on the back side of the green releasing into the deep rough. Long’s inconstant day of one eagle, six birdies, two bogies, one double and one triple bogey raised its head again as he pitched the ball past the hole outside of Griffith. Long putted first, again coming up just short, giving Griffith a two putt opportunity to win the Championship and that’s exactly what he did. Griffith finished 9-under par posting rounds of 68-72-67=207 making par on the first play-off hole to win the Championship.
Travis Long shot rounds of 68-68-71=207 while defending Champion Jon Stanley finished third with rounds of 69-66-73=208 total. Finishing tied for 8th place was Brandon Smith 66-70-74=210 while Host Professional from The Gallery Golf Club Paul Nolen tied for 10th shooting 70-73-69=212. Local Professional from Skyline Country Club Chris Dompier posted a 212 total as well with 73-71-68.
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 has been a longtime dream of mine to play in a PGA TOUR event”.