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2020 PGA Championship: Nebraska instructor leads club pros

Ryan Vermeer
Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Neb.

Omaha’s Ryan Vermeer, the PGA's 2019 player of the year, returns to his association’s biggest event after having been among 3 club pros to make the cut last year

Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Neb., can tap into some fond memories as he leads the 20 club professionals who qualified for this week’s PGA Championship.

Vermeer, 42, the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, was the PGA’s 2019 player of the year and will be among the field for the 102nd PGA at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. The PGA of America turned to Plan B for its top club professionals to qualify for its biggest event of the year after the global coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the PGA Professional Championship. The PGA used its 2019 player-of-the-year standings for the 20 entrants this week.

Vermeer was one of three club pros to have made the cut in last year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. He tied for 80th, which was next to last among those who qualified for the weekend, one spot ahead of fellow PGA professional Marty Jertson. Both will return this year along with Rob Labritz, who tied for 60th at Bethpage and was the low club pro. It was the first time that three club pros made the cut at the PGA Championship since the PGA moved to its 20-player exemption in 2006.

Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, will be making his 11th PGA appearance, the most among this year’s entrants. Only Steve Schneiter, who appeared in 12 PGA Championships from 1996 to 2014, has played in more as a club pro.

The roster of the 20 PGA professionals who will compete this week, in alphabetical order, with hometown in parentheses, club/facility and PGA section:

* Michael Auterson (Milford, Ohio) Hickory Woods GC, Southern Ohio
*Danny Balin (Great Neck, N.Y.) Fresh Meadow CC, Metropolitan
* Alex Beach (Rye, N.Y.) Westchester CC, Metropolitan
* Rich Berberian Jr. (Hooksett, N.H.) Vesper CC, New England
* Justin Bertsch (Naples, Fla.) Club Pelican Bay, South Florida
* Jason Caron (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) Mill River Club, Metropolitan
* Ben Cook (Caledonia, Mich.) Yankee Springs GC, Michigan
* Judd Gibb (Fort Dodge, Iowa) Lakeside Municipal GC, Iowa
* Jeff Hart (Solana Beach, Calif.) PGA of America Life member, Southern California
* Marty Jertson (Phoenix) Ping Golf, Southwest
* Zach J. Johnson (Farmington, Utah) Davis Park GC, Utah
* Alex Knoll (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) Glen Brook GC, Philadelphia
* Rob Labritz (Pound Ridge, N.Y.) GlenArbor GC, Metropolitan
* David Muttitt (Albuquerque, N.M.) Los Altos GC, Sun Country
* John O'Leary (Sterling, Va.) Trump National GC Washington, Middle Atlantic
* Rod Perry (Port Orange, Fla.) Crane Lakes G&CC, North Florida
* Jeff Roth (Farmington, N.M.) Boyne Golf Academy, Michigan
* Bob Sowards (Dublin, Ohio) Kinsale GC, Southern Ohio
* Ryan Vermeer (Omaha, Neb.) Happy Hollow, Nebraska
* Shawn Warren (Portland, Maine) Falmouth CC, New England

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