Former Saint makes PGA championship

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sean Dougherty tees off on the first hole of the third round of the 44th Annual PGA Professional National Championship at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa. on Tuesday. Dougherty graduated from Nansemond-Suffolk in 1997 and is the head professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan. Dougherty finished in the top 20 earning a spot in the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club Aug. 11-14.

Nansemond-Suffolk alum Sean Dougherty made his first time playing in the PGA Professional National Championship pay off in a major way.

Dougherty will play in the PGA Tour’s final major of the year, the PGA Championship, the only major with a completely professional field, thanks to his performance over 72 holes Sunday-Wednesday in the 44th annual championship tournament for PGA club and teaching professionals played at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa.

Although now a Kansan, as the head professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan. since 2008, Dougherty topped a legendary native Virginian along his way to finishing in a tie for eighth place with a four-day total of six-under par 279.

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After carding a four-under par 67 on Hershey’s East Course on day one of the tourney, Dougherty fired eight birdies and 10 pars for his second round on Hershey’s West Course.

His eight-under par 64 put him atop the leaderboard and his 12-under total of 131 became the new 36-hole record for the event, erasing Sam Snead’s 1971 record by one stroke.

Dougherty had a streak of four birdies in six holes in his first round. In his 64, he posted six birdies in an eight-hole run including four straight on holes 6-9.

Rob Shipman, Milburn Country Club’s director of instruction, was Dougherty’s caddie as he was a rookie in the event.

Following the incredible round on Monday, Dougherty said, “I’ve got one of my best friends on my bag, my caddie and my teacher so that makes it very special.”

“He keeps me loose and he gave me a lot of good reads and helped me to hit shots where I wanted. I hit a lot of putts on line and some of them fell in, so I feel very fortunate,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty shot 72 on the East Course Tuesday and 76 on the West Course in the final round Wednesday, falling off the lead but remaining within the top 20 golfers who earned automatic spots into the PGA Championship. Opening the tournament, 312 golfers were vying for the 20 spots.

Dougherty graduated from NSA in 1997 and went on to UNC-Wilmington. Dougherty won the 2000 Eastern Amateur Championship at Elizabeth Manor Country Club in Portsmouth. He became a club pro in 2002.

The 93rd PGA Championship will be hosted by the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. from Aug. 11-14.