Gearing up for 2019 SFPGA Professional Championship

Gearing up for 2019 SFPGA Professional Championship

- By Danielle Muench
The 2019 South Florida PGA Professional Championship is set to take place September 17-19th at Quail Valley Golf Club and Bent Pine Golf Club. In addition to the strong field of competition, this three-day event draws in PGA Professionals from across Florida for a chance to network and spend time with peers. Past participants Justin Bertsch, PGA, Andrew Filbert, PGA and Kyle Sanders, PGA share their experiences playing in previous SFPGA Professional Championships.

Last year, Sanders fired an 8-under par 64 to win the SFPGA Professional Championship at The Club at Mediterra. This year marks Sanders’ 10th SFPGA Professional Championship appearance, having previously competed in the Illinois Section Championship, Sanders is looking forward to his sixth event here in Florida.

Sanders, a sales representative for Fairway & Greene, strongly encourages all PGA Professionals to play in this event, as well as the events leading up to this one. “Get out there and get involved,” said Sanders. “Every year there’s great competition and overall, it’s just a great experience.”

As defending champion, Sanders’ mindset going into this year remains the same. “I had no expectations going into the event last year,” said Sanders. “Everything fell into place for me. I’m just going to go out there and try to have fun like I always do.”

The top 20 players from the 2019 PGA Professional Championship earned a spot to compete in one of the PGA Tour’s major events, the PGA Championship. Due to their top 20 finish at the Professional Championship, South Florida PGA Professionals Bertsch and Filbert were awarded the opportunity to compete at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this past May.

While Bertsch, Head PGA Golf Professional at Club Pelican Bay, did not take home the win last year, he did have opportunity to compete on a national stage at the PGA Championship. “Competing in the PGA Championship was an experience of a lifetime. All of the players welcomed me with open arms,” Bertsch said.

Filbert also had the special experience of competing in a major. “It’s unbelievable to say I have played in a major. The nerves and competition were three times as much as any other competition I have competed in. But it was a memory I will never forget,” Filbert said.

Last year, Filbert, an Assistant PGA Golf Professional at Royal Poinciana Golf Club, was awarded the Section Player of the Year title for the second year in a row, which earned him a spot in the 2019 Honda Classic. “Playing with some of the best in the golf game was quite the experience,” said Filbert. “There were a lot of nerves but being able to play in front of family and friends was incredible. Competing in an event like the Honda Classic was one goal I’ve had since I started playing and I am fortunate I had the chance to fulfill it not once, but twice.”

While Sanders did not qualify for the PGA Championship, winning the SFPGA Professional Championship earned him a spot in the Puerto Rico Open, where he had the opportunity to compete on a national stage alongside some of the top PGA Tour players in the game. “Puerto Rico was a great experience,” said Sanders. “It was my first time playing in a tour event, so I was thankful to have had the experience and opportunity to play, as every competitive golfer dreams of playing in a big event.”

Bertsch offers some words of advice to PGA Professionals looking to compete in the SFPGA Professional Championship. “This event is one to look forward to all summer,” said Bertsch. “The courses are in phenomenal shape and there is always a competitive aspect where you can measure yourself against your peers.”

Similarly, Filbert encourages players to register for this event, “This event is always one to mark on the calendar. I always look forward to getting out there and competing alongside my fellow professionals,” Filbert said. “You gotta play. You gotta compete. You never know what will happen. Playing well in this event can get you one step closer to competing on a national stage.”

The South Florida PGA has been awarded 12 spots and five alternates into the 2020 PGA Professional Championship, presented by Cadillac, Club Car and OMEGA in April. In addition to national qualifying spots, players will compete for an estimated $90,000 purse.