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Perry headlines club pros earning Oak Hill berths

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Rod Perry fired a 3-under 69 Wednesday at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore., to claim the PGA Professional National Championship. At 10-under 277, Perry won by three shots over Ryan Polzin and headlines the group of 20 club professionals that punched tickets to the PGA Championship later this summer.

Perry put himself into position thanks to a 9-under 63 in Sunday’s opening round, easily staying inside the top 20 thanks to rounds of 72 and 73 before Wednesday’s final round that included four birdies against a lone bogey. In addition to a spot in the season’s final major, Perry will also earn exemptions into six PGA Tour events across the next 12 months thanks to his victory.

“I knew that I would have to play good,” explained Perry, a professional at Crane Lakes Golf & Country Club in Port Orange, Fla. “Now I’ve got to make sure I can get six weeks off of work (to accept the PGA Tour exemptions).”

Among the notables earning spots at Oak Hill this August were Mark Sheftic, who as the head professional at Merion Golf Club was busy hosting the U.S. Open just two weeks ago, and Mike Small, who coached the University of Illinois men’s golf team to a runner-up finish at last month’s NCAA Championship.

A playoff was needed to determine the final PGA Championship berths, with six players tied for 18th place at 1-over 288. Bob Gaus and Danny Balin both birdied the first playoff hole to earn a spot in the PGA Championship field, while Rob Labritz snagged the third and final berth in dramatic fashion. Labritz, a pro from Bedford Hills, N.Y., holed a wedge from 95 yards away on the second playoff hole for birdie, stunning his competitors to claim the final spot in what had become a 4-for-1 playoff.

Other club professionals that will tee it up against the game’s best at Oak Hill thanks to their performance this week at Sunriver include Jeff Sorenson, J.C. Anderson, Chip Sullivan, Bob Sowards, David Muttitt, Mark Brown, David McNabb, Kirk Hanefeld, Sonny Skinner, Stuart Smith, Jeffrey Martin, Lee Rhind and Caine Fitzgerald.