Rich Berberian Jr. Wins 49th PGA Professional Championship
VERONA, N.Y. (June 29, 2016) – Rich Berberian Jr., with his father’s “lesson of a lifetime” swirling in his head, rolled home a 33-foot uphill birdie putt on the 18th green to capture an improbable victory Wednesday in the 49th PGA Professional Championship at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, New York.
The closing dramatics by the 28-year-old PGA Assistant Professional at Windham Country Club in Derry, New Hampshire, capped a rollercoaster final seven holes where Berberian overcame a triple bogey on the 12th hole with birdies on holes No. 13, 16 and 18.
He finished with a 3-under-par 69, a one-stroke triumph over Mark Brown of Oyster Bay, New York, and Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas, for a winning total of 11-under-par 277. Berberian is the second-youngest PGA Professional Champion, trailing Howell Fraser, who was 15 days younger when upon claiming victory in 1968.
Berberian earned $75,000 and became just the second New England PGA Section Member to capture the Walter Hagen Cup in the nation’s largest all-professional championship since Bob Lendzion in 1986.
“I had practice from the day before (with a double bogey),” said Berberian with a smirk. “My dad said to play one shot at a time. It’s easier to say it than to do it. I hit that shot so bad, so far left, I had to laugh.
While Berberian was contemplating his next shot, his father, Richard Sr., was at home in Melbourne, Florida, watching the Championship on television and celebrating his 69th birthday.
“I watched that last putt and was shocked,” said Berberian Sr. “I was expecting a two-putt, as it had to go over a hump in that green. It was the best feeling watching that, and it’s the best birthday present I could ever have.”