For the second time in three years, Craig Bowden captured the Indiana PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes Benz and Omega. Bowden, a tour rep for KBS Shafts, fought his way through a crowded final round leaderboard to post a three-shot win at the Country Club of Indianapolis.
“It was a good day today,” said Bowden. “I wasn’t even sure if we were going to play today with the forecast, it really looked ominous.” After playing 36-holes on day one, the 18-hole final round was delayed for nearly two hours at the start as lightning and thunder surrounded the course. When the skies cleared, Bowden joined Ryan Ford of Pleasant Run GC and Bill Pollert of Highland G&CC in the final group with the trio tied for the lead at 2-under par.
Making the turn at even-par 35, Bowden had separated a bit from Ford and Pollert, but playing in the group ahead of them was Brittany Kelly of Woodland CC who was looking to become the first female to win the Indiana Section title. Kelly birdied two of her first four holes to start the round and added another at the par-5 8th
to take a two-shot advantage. Despite a bogey at the 9th
, Kelly rebounded with another birdie on the 11th
to regain that two-stroke lead over Bowden.
However, Kelly hit a tough streak making bogeys on 12, 13 and 14 and Bowden took advantage playing that same stretch one-under with a birdie on the long par-3 13th
. By the time Bowden reached the 15th
tee, his lead was two for the first time all day. Finding out he had taken the two-shot advantage, Bowden promptly hit his tee shot into the fairway bunker on the short par-4 15th
. “Kind of, sort of,” Bowden said about the lead having bearing on his play the rest of the way in. “I wish I would have hit a 4-iron off of 15, I wouldn’t have hit a five wood in that bunker down there,” he said questioning his own decision making with the lead. “I would have probably laid it up just to make sure I got it in the fairway and plaid it a little more conservative but I hit a good shot out of the bunker and it turned out okay.”
It did turn out okay as Bowden went on to make par and carry that advantage to the 18th
hole. Playing with a cushion, Bowden hit his approach a good 20-25 feet past the hole at the last, but calmly rolled in the long birdie to finish with a final round 2-under par 68 and 4-under total for a three-shot victory.
“It’s special,” said Bowden about his second Section Championship. “There’s a lot of really good players in this Section and my hat is off to all of them. They’re all very competitive and I’m proud to be a Hoosier and proud to be representing next summer at the national club pro again,” Bowden continued referring to securing a spot in the national PGA Professional Championship to be held next June at the Bayonet Black Horse Courses in Seaside, California. The top finishers from that event will qualify for the PGA Championship, which remains the top goal for Bowden. “Hopefully, I can get my butt into that PGA,” he quipped.
In total, five Indiana PGA Professionals will make the trip alongside Bowden. Kelly (-1) will be one of them as she tied for second with Eric Huther (-1) of Sarah Shank GC who made a closing birdie to move into that spot. Dave Pugh (+1) of Mystic Hills GC and Blair Shadday (+1) of Forest Hills CC advanced out of a three-man playoff with Pollert to capture the final two advancing spots.