By Jack Rubin (Cbusclubhouse founder and Ohio Golf News Reporter)
SEASIDE, CA – Highly ranked and veteran golfers that still haven’t played in ten PGA Championships include the likes of Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar. One name that will not be on that list in August is former PGA Tour player and local teaching professional at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club, Bob Sowards.
Sowards competed in his rather annual stop at the PGA Professional Championship last week, played this year in Seaside, California. As a former winner of the national championship, Sowards usually comes into the golf tournament with a lot of confidence and belief that he can win, even at 50 years old.
“Heading into the tournament I liked where my game was at due to the fact that I was excited to play golf after turning 50 earlier this month. I’ve been playing more this year than the past 4-5 years and have done quite a bit of practicing at The Range, an indoor facility in Dublin with Trackman,” Sowards noted to Cbus Clubhouse.
After three straight even-par-72’s, Sowards was tied for 10th place, comfortably inside the top 20, the cut line to decide who makes it to the PGA Championship, which will be played at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri in August.
It was no surprise to hear that the cut line wasn’t even on Soward’s radar heading into the final round at Bayonet GC, trailing by 6 shots, he set a goal to win the golf tournament.
“My goal the last round was to get to 5-under-par (-5 won the event). I figured I had to get there to have a chance and that ended up being the number I needed. I never thought about Top 20 or qualifying for the PGA.”
Sowards was right about what he had to get to, but that would have been almost too special. He settled for a 3-under 69 to share second place. His final round included an eagle at 10 to get to -2 for the day, sealing the deal for qualifying for the PGA. However, when he birdied 16 and 18, he was only one shot back of the lead. Eventual champion Ryan Vermeer shut down Sowards hopes with a birdie on 18 to post 5-under en route to victory.
Of course, one of the biggest goals for PGA Professionals in the PGA Championship or for amateurs in the U.S. Open is to make the cut. Unfortunately, that is something Sowards has never done in his previous nine starts, but he won’t let that effect his play Thursday and Friday at Bellerive.
“I’ll go into the PGA with a lot of confidence and play as good as I can and figure out where I stand afterwards. No real difference mentally that what I had last week,” Sowards said about his mentality.
One thing that many Central Ohio golfers, especially younger ones, don’t know about Sowards is that he did play on the PGA Tour for a year back in 2008, he also played on the Nationwide Tour (now the Web.Com Tour), in 1998 and 2009. His best finish on the Tour was a tie for ninth at the season ending Wyndham Championship. Sowards made the cut in nine of his 22 starts, racking up over $230,000 in prize money.
“The main thing I learned on tour is that those players don’t make many mistakes. They don’t play perfect golf but they don’t give away a lot of shots. On tour everything is really cool, only bad thing was being away from my family so much,” Sowards said about his PGA Tour days.
With how well he is playing at 50 years old, it’ll likely be more of a coming out party than a swan song for Sowards at the PGA championship. You heard it here first, Bob Sowards is making his first cut at the PGA this year.
PGA PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: https://www.golfchannel.com/tours/pga-of-america/2018/pga-professional-championship/