AUSTIN, Texas — Traverse City’s Scott Hebert charged from behind to capture the 31st Senior PGA Professional Championship at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa’s Fazio Foothills Course.
With the win, Hebert adds his name to a short list, joining Steve Schneiter (1995, 2016) and Bob Sowards (2004, 2018) as the only players with a victory in both the PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Championships.
“Those two guys are legends,” said Hebert, the PGA Head Professional at Traverse City Golf and Country Club. “It was magical yesterday and it started back up on the back nine today.”
Hebert’s four-day score of 16-under 270 (70-70-63-67) matched a Championship record for lowest 72-hole total. He finished four strokes clear of Jerry Haas of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jeff Hart of Solana Beach, California, and Frank Bensel Jr. of Jupiter, Florida.
Through 61 holes, Hebert trailed the 54-hole leader, Bensel, by five strokes. Bensel appeared set to run away with the Championship.
Chaos quickly ensued.
A double-bogey and bogey on Nos. 8 and 10 evaporated Bensel’s lead. Hebert, playing alongside Bensel and Omar Uresti in the final group, rolled in birdies on Nos. 8 and 12, the latter of which squared Hebert and Bensel atop the leaderboard, momentarily. But Bensel responded with a birdie of his own to maintain a one-stroke advantage.
Hebert’s birdie on 13, combined with a Bensel bogey, flipped the lead to Hebert, the 2008 PGA Professional Champion. Meanwhile, playing three groups ahead of the final threesome was Jerry Haas, who began the final round five strokes back of the lead. Haas converted four straight birdies from holes 12 through 15 to reach 13-under and joined Hebert for a share of the lead.
A birdie by Bensel on No. 14 created a three-way tie at the top coming down the stretch.
Bogeys by Bensel (No. 15) and Haas (No. 16), along with a birdie by Hebert on No. 15 provided a two-stroke advantage for the Traverse City resident. He added a couple more on Nos. 16 and 17 to build enough separation.
“The way the day started, it didn’t look like it was going to go this way,” Hebert said. “As good as I finished my round yesterday, I started that poorly today. But I got a little momentum going on the back nine.
“Frank was great to play with — he was playing well. Two great guys, Omar and Frank. We’re just out here knocking it around, having fun, playing some golf.”
Hebert’s 63 on Saturday set a Championship low for third-round total, as well as tied the best 18-hole total in Championship history. His weekend total of 130 was best in the field by seven strokes.
Haas’ 67 matched Hebert for the lowest of the final round. Austin, Texas’ own Uresti finished in solo fifth at 275, one back of the trio tied for second.
Each of the top five earned an exemption into the final stage of the 2019 PGA Tour Champions National Finals. The top eight, including ties, automatically qualified for the 2020 Championship, held Oct. 15-18 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
With the victory, Hebert earned the Leo Fraser Trophy and $21,500 of the $300,000 purse. He also leads a contingent of 35 players heading to Harbor Shores Resort to compete in the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship May 21-24.