The 50th PGA Professional Championship brought four days of the most intense competition golf can provide. The tournament drama ended on Wednesday when Omar Uresti, a PGA Tour pro and PGA Life Member from Austin, Texas, made par on the second hole in a sudden-death playoff hole at Crosswater. The par cemented his win, a $50,000 first prize, his ticket into the 2017 PGA Championship, and entries into several other PGA Tour events.
Needless to say, with so much on the line the pressure was palpable.
But this is Sunriver Resort. And while golf is always important here, it rarely is ever the only reason to make a trip to Central Oregon. After all, Sunriver is considered among the top family golf destinations in the country because of everything it can offer.
In fact, it’s the family-friendly nature of Sunriver, which hosted the PPC for the fourth time this week, that is among the chief reasons why the PGA of America has chosen to return to Central Oregon.
But don’t ask us. Talk to the 312 players from 44 states who teed it up this week at Sunriver Resort.
“My family and I have many wonderful memories,” said Chip Sullivan, a Mississippi pro who won the PPC at Sunriver in 2007 and has played in all four PPCs played in Central Oregon. “I remember my oldest girl, Kalley, catching her first fish when we went boating one afternoon at Sunriver Resort. We all went hiking in the lava tubes, horseback riding, biking and adventuring on Mount Bachelor, to name a few. Each and every moment is a treasure, and we are forever grateful.”
Sullivan is hardly alone. The chance to share the event, which is the most important golf tournament on the biggest stage that most in the field will ever play, with family is a rare opportunity.
“When I won at Sunriver in 2013, it was great to have my family there with me on the 18th green as I finished,” said Rod Perry, who won at Sunriver in 2013 and was one of 20 pros who qualified for the PGA Championship this year. “Having my wife, Jaclyn, and our two kids, Vanessa and Carson, there was the absolute highlight of my playing career. It wouldn’t have been complete without them.”
Of course, Sunriver Resort is fun for everybody, even those not traveling with family. While the Golf Channel’s bright spotlight shined on the contenders, a few of the other PGA professionals in this year’s PPC were busy enjoying the region’s other notable amenities.
Start with Jeff Martin, a PGA Head Professional from Norton, Massachusetts. After missing the 36-hole cut, Martin refused to take his ball and go home. Instead, he teed it up at one of the most unconventional of places: thousands of feet in elevation above the fairways at Sunriver Resort at the base of Mount Bachelor.
Not a bad way to kill some time.
Not every pro had enough free time, though. Jaysen Hansen, a Cleveland pro, was all set on Wednesday to take a kayak trip down the Deschutes River with friends. But sometimes work gets in the way of such things.
He had to cancel the kayak excursion after making the cut, but playing well enough to qualify for a trip to the PGA Championship in August will have to do.
“It's funny,” said Hansen who ended up finishing in a tie for ninth place after a final-round 69. “We were driving in (Wednesday) and I said to my caddie, Brad, ‘I don't even know what to do. We're in unfamiliar territory. We're usually missing the cut after two days and then experiencing the town. Now we've had to stay in and be good.’ This is fun though.”
Besides, there is always next time for that kayak trip down the Deschutes.
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