SUTTON, Mass. – Despite temperatures in the 90s back-to-back days, the hottest thing at Blackstone National Golf Club this week might have been Kirk Hanefeld’s putter. Hanefeld blistered the course with 15 birdies over 36 holes to win his third New England PGA Senior Championship by seven strokes.
Hanefeld, the PGA Director of Instruction at Salem Country Club, began the final round with a 4-stroke lead and opened with birdies on his first three holes. By then, playing partners and nearest competitors Steven Hausmann, PGA (Amherst CC) and John Hickson, PGA (Chequessett Yacht & CC), who each started the day four shots back of Hanefeld, were battling for second.
“In reality it was early in the round, after the first three or four holes,” Hanefeld said of when he knew he would hoist his third NEPGA Senior Championship, adding “but this is a funny game and there are an awful lot of good players so to let my guard down and coast would have been a big mistake.”
Instead of letting his guard down, Hanefeld kept the pedal down, reeling off a final-round 67 to finish 12 under par. Hanefeld’s rounds of 65-67 were the lowest two rounds of the tournament, and while his putter came up clutch, he displayed an all-around air-tight game over 36 holes to lap the field.
“I know that driving the ball in the fairway, which is typically a strong suit for me, worked well for me,” he said. “I didn’t ever hit it out of play, I couldn’t have missed more than a fairway or two all week.”
Hausmann shot 2-under par 70 on Tuesday to finish second at 5-under for the tournament, while Hickson finished third at 2-under par after shooting 73 on Tuesday. Jeff Seavey, PGA (Goose River Resort) and Scott Johnson, PGA (Oakley CC) tied for fourth at 1-over par for the tournament.
Hanefeld holds a lifetime exemption into the Senior PGA Professional Championship as a two-time champion (2008, ’11), and Seavey has an exemption into the 2020 event as well. Five additional Professionals earned exemptions to join Hanefeld and Seavey in the Senior PGA Professional Championship on Tuesday. Hausmann, Hickson, Rick Karbowski, PGA (Auburn Driving Range), Michael Dugas, PGA (JW Parks GC) and Robert Tramonti, PGA (Triggs Memorial GC) each punched their tickets for the tournament, scheduled for Oct. 15-18 at PGA Golf Club in Port. St. Lucie, Fla.
The NEPGA Senior Championship, which is traditionally played in Vermont, was moved to Blackstone National GC due to COVID-19 restrictions in Vermont. Thank you to Blackstone National GC and PGA Professionals Matthew Stephens, Patrick Beahn and Robert Bruso for opening their facility to the Championship.
A big thank you also goes to tournament partners RJ Shepherd, Golf Channel, John Deere and the PGA TOUR for supporting the Championship.