SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – When you arrive at Desert Mountain, you know you’re in for a real test. Jack Nicklaus designed these courses framed by the Sonoran Desert and he left more than a few Golden Bear footprints.
Frank Esposito Jr. understood all that and left an imprint of his own Sunday to collect his second national title in four years. The 54-year-old PGA Teaching Professional at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, New Jersey, posted a 4-under-par 68, capped by chipping in for eagle from in front of the 18th green, to win the 29th Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz.
Esposito finished with a 72-hole total of 12-under-par 276, good for a five-stroke triumph and became the sixth player in event history to win multiple titles. He earned a first-place prize of $21,500 from a total purse of $300,000. Jim Schuman of Scottsdale, Arizona, who had a 70, was runner-up at 281. Stuart Smith of Reno, Nevada, (68) was third at 282, and defending champion Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah (73), led a foursome at 284 that included Mike Small of Champaign, Illinois (68); Mark Mielke of Jupiter, Florida (72); and Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California (75).
Tim Fleming, director of golf at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, tied for 26th and earned a spot in the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship May 24-27 at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. Fleming shot rounds of 74-69-75-72 to finish at 2-over par. The top 32 and ties advanced to the major championship.
Fleming, who took a rare triple bogey on the 18th hole in his round of 75, rebounded with a birdie there in his final round to ensure he would make the field next May. The Senior PGA Championship is scheduled at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa in 2021.