Small repeats at PGA Professional National Championship


FRENCH LICK, Ind. – Mike Small birdied three of his last five holes to win his second straight PGA professional championship on Wednesday, holding off Sonny Skinner by three strokes.

The University of Illinois men’s coach shot a 1-over 73 in his final round at French Lick Resort to finish 8 under and win his third overall PGA national title, tying Larry Gilbert’s record.

Mark Sheftic, the teaching pro at Merion in Ardmore, Pa., shot a 2-under 70 to finish third at 3-under 283, Danny Balin of Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn., shot 75 to finish fourth.

The top 20 finishers earned spots in the PGA Championship on Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Small, who won $75,000, became the third player to repeat as champion in the 43-year-old event. Roger Watson also did it in 1974-75.

Skinner, the PGA teaching pro at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, Ga., was tied with Small until the 215-yard 16th hole.

Skinner bogeyed the par-3, while Small nearly aced it, taking his lead back up to 2.