BOYLSTON, Mass. — One hundred forty-one New England PGA Professionals will tee it up on Monday, Aug. 5, when the NEPGA Section Championship begins, and by Wednesday afternoon 12 players will be one step closer to competing against the strongest field in golf at the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The 99th NEPGA Section Championship heads to two fine New Hampshire facilities, Manchester Country Club and Concord Country Club, for the 54-holes stroke-play championship Aug. 5-7. After players alternate courses over Monday and Tuesday’s rounds, the top 60 players plus ties will make the cut to Wednesday’s final round at Manchester CC, where the 2019 NEPGA Champion will be crowned and the Section’s 12 qualifying spots into the 2020 PGA Professional National Championship will be earned.
Offering an $85,000 purse, the NEPGA Championship boasts the largest professional purse in New England outside of the PGA TOUR. Players who make the cut and complete the 54-hole tournament are guaranteed a piece of the pie, with the champion garnering a five-figure payday.
Rich Berberian, Jr., PGA (Vesper CC) is the hometown favorite, and has already secured his spot in the 2020 PGA Professional National Championship by virtue of a top-20 finish at the 2019 National Championship, which also propelled him to his fourth consecutive PGA Championship appearance. Without the distraction of protecting a National Championship qualifying spot, Berberian will look to defend his title and take home his fourth Section Championship overall, previously winning in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
Berberian recently got a taste of success at host Manchester CC, winning the 18-hole NEPGA Stroke Play Series event at MCC on July 8, his second Stroke Play Series win of the season.
“I’m excited to play our Section Championship here,” Berberian said after that victory, adding “I know golf is a day-to-day thing. Things can change overnight, let alone a month from now. Whether the putts go in that week or don’t, at least I’ve prepared a little bit and I have some good memories now.”
Jeff Martin, PGA (Wollaston CC) has advanced to the PGA Professional Championship 15 consecutive years but has yet to etch his name on the Mahan Trophy as the NEPGA Section Champion. Martin came oh-so-close in 2018, finishing runner-up to Berberian by just one stroke and three shots clear of the nearest challengers. Martin, who considers his driver to be one of his best weapons, qualified for the PGA Championship in 2005, ’08 and ’13.
It’s been almost two decades since Kirk Hanefeld, PGA (Salem CC) claimed the first of his three NEPGA Section Championships, winning in 2000, ’01 and ’03, but given the form he continues to display, he still figures to be a factor in 2019. Hanefeld finished in a tie for 3rd at the Championship last year and was one of three players from the Section to make it to the final day of the 2019 PGA Professional Championship. Hanefeld has stayed hot this year, winning the Oyster Harbors US Senior Open qualifier and eventually making the cut at the 2019 US Senior Open in late June.
2013 Champion Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC) joined Hanefeld in a tie for 3rd at last year’s Championship and is eager to return to the PGA Championship after competing at Bellerive in 2018. Warren reached the final round of the 2019 PGA Professional Championship but ultimately missed a playoff for the final PGA Championship spot by two strokes.
The NEPGA Section Championship is presented by Omega, Cadillac and Club Car, with support from Titleist, FootJoy, TaylorMade, PGA TOUR, Nike, Mohegan Sun, Golf Channel, Avidia Bank and Pukka. Be sure to follow the New England PGA on Twitter (@NEPGA), Instagram (NewEnglandPGA), and Facebook (New England PGA) for Section Championship updates before, during and after the tournament.
About the New England PGA: The New England Professional Golfers’ Association (New England PGA) has been making the game of golf better for over 100 years in New England. The New England PGA is a non-profit association dedicated to promoting the game of golf, and is one of the 41 sections that comprise the PGA of America. The New England PGA consists of over 900 PGA Class A golf professionals and over 140 PGA apprentices at over 450 golf facilities in five states — Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts & Maine. These facilities include public, private and resort golf courses, teaching centers, and driving ranges.