Saint teeing off in PGA Championship

Published 5:53 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk alum Sean Dougherty will play in the first round of the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on Thursday, with his tee time set for 9:20 a.m. Dougherty is the head professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan. He made the PGA Championship, his first PGA Tour event, with his eighth-place finish in the PGA Professional National Championship in June. | Photo Courtesy of Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America

Nansemond-Suffolk alum Sean Dougherty is one of 156 PGA professionals from around the world teeing off Thursday in the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

Dougherty, the head PGA pro at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan., is grouped with PGA Tour player Webb Simpson and European PGA Tour member Gregory Bourdy of Bordeaux, France. The threesome is slated to go off the first tee at 9:20 a.m.

Dougherty played his way into the major championship with his eighth-place finish in the PGA Professional National Championship in Hershey, Pa. in June.

Email newsletter signup

With 312 PGA club and teaching pros playing for 20 spots into the PGA Championship, Dougherty broke Sam Snead’s 36-hole record with rounds of 67 and 64 on the first two days of the event.

The only major with an all-pro field is Dougherty’s first PGA Tour tournament after years of trying to work his way up the touring pro ranks.

Dougherty graduated from NSA in 1997 and UNC-Wilmington in 2001. Dougherty played on smaller pro circuits until becoming an assistant pro at Milburn in 2008.

Dougherty became Milburn Country Club’s head professional in April, so it was his first time playing in the PGA Professional National Championship.

“I took it very seriously, practicing as much as I could leading up to it,” Dougherty said.

“At the same time, this is the club’s (Milburn) busiest time of year, so I’ve been practicing when events here and giving lessons and my schedule all allow. All the members have been very supportive though. They allowed me a little more time to practice. They knew about the possible benefits to the club if I could go (to Hershey) and play well,” he said.

He already had this week blocked off for a golf tournament. Dougherty qualified for the Price Cutter Charity Championship Presented by Dr. Pepper PGA Nationwide Tour event in Springfield, Mo. this weekend.

Playing in the PGA Championship is the opportunity of a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean work stops at his club.

“I have an outstanding staff here, so everything’s fine, but I have duties here to take care of. That’s my job first and foremost,” Dougherty said.

An incredibly long course, measuring 7,467 yards at a par of 70, awaits at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Each side has one par five. Only one par four is shorter than 425 yards. The par-four No. 2 is 512 yards and the closing hole is a 507-yard par four.

No. 18 was the most difficult hole on the course in the 2001 PGA Championship, with a dogleg left off the tee and water guarding the green short and left.

The best finish for a club pro in the PGA Championship is Tommy Bolt’s third-place finish in 1971.