Ryan Vermeer wins PGA Professional Championship, among 20 PGA qualifiers

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Ryan Vermeer wins PGA Professional Championship, among 20 PGA qualifiers

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Ryan Vermeer wins PGA Professional Championship, among 20 PGA qualifiers

Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Professional Championship Wednesday at Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif., to lead a list of 20 qualifiers for this year’s PGA Championship.

Vermeer, a 40-year-old director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Neb., finished at 5 under, two shots ahead of Bob Sowards and Sean McCarty, after closing with a 1-over 73.

“I haven’t won a lot of golf tournaments in my life; about seven in college, but nothing like this,” said Vermeer, a former two-time All-American at the University of Kansas, who earned $55,000 for his win. “To do it in front of cameras and what goes with it, and I’ve never won this much money. It’s a life-changing thing. I’ve known that I had enough game to win an event like this. To come out and do it is pretty awesome.”

Vermeer entered the final day with a three-shot lead, but quickly lost it when he played the front nine in 4 over with a double bogey on No. 2 and bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8. He rebounded to birdie the par-5 10th and par-4 11th holes and added a closing birdie at the par-5 18th.

Three strokes ahead entering the day, Vermeer played the front in 4 over with a double bogey on the par-4 second and bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-4 eighth. He rebounded with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th and also birdied the par-5 18th.

Vermeer finished ninth last year in the PGA Professional Championship to qualify for the PGA at Quail Hollow. He’ll be joined this year at Bellerive in St. Louis by five past PGA Pro champs: Sowards (2004), Matt Dobyns (2012, ’15), Rich Berberian Jr. (2016), Michael Block (2014) and Omar Uresti (2017).

Others advancing to the PGA: McCarty, David Muttitt, Jason Schmuhl, Jaysen Hansen, Johan Kok, Marty Jertson, Brian Smock, Ben Kern, Zach J. Johnson, Craig Hocknull, Matt Borchert, Shawn Warren, Craig Bowden and Danny Balin.

Balin got the final spot, beating Brian Norman with a par on the seventh extra hole after Norman lost a ball in a tree.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report

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