SPRINGBORO, OH – Ben Kern, PGA claimed the 78th Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship title presented by Corebridge Financial, Club Car, and Rolex, and supported by Titleist / FootJoy, Callaway, Nike, and TaylorMade.
“I just played a simple game and it paid off,” reflected Kern about his game plan during the Championship.
Kern moved to the Southern Ohio PGA Section in February 2023 as the new General Manager / Director of Golf at Hickory Hills Golf Club in Grove City, OH. With all the changes going on, playing golf is one thing that has remained consistent for him. He is no stranger to competition – Kern finished t11 at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship earlier this year which earned him a spot in the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Previous to the Southern Ohio Section, he also has PGA Professional Championship titles in the Northern Texas and Southern Texas Sections.
“It’s a small membership at Hickory Hills. They love playing golf with me, watching me play golf and following along on the leaderboard,” noted Kern about the support he receives from his community at Hickory Hills Golf Club. “They’re going to be very happy to see that [trophy] on the counter tomorrow!”
Sitting in third place one stroke behind the leaders overnight, Kern arrived at Sycamore Creek Country Club ready to play his game during the final round. Two bogeys and a birdie put him one-over-par in the hunt for the title after the first nine while an even-par final nine helped him finish the tournament two-over-par 218, and earned him a spot in a three-person playoff. Kern came out for the playoff fired up. Birdie-Par-Par on Sycamore Creek’s finishing holes claimed him the 78th Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship title.
“I got here at the end of February and it’s been crazy – PGA Professional National Championship, PGA Championship, new job, new everything and I haven’t played very much so getting the title towards the end of the year means a lot and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year,” said Kern about what the championship win means to him.
The title wasn’t easy to come by for Kern. He went to the 54th hole of the championship holding a one-shot lead but wasn’t able to convert a six-foot putt for par, sending him into a three-way playoff.
Joining Kern was three-time champion Dave Bahr, PGA and Ricky Denny, PGA. Bahr, PGA Head Professional at Maketewah Country Club, kept his consistency throughout the three-round tournament. He made two birdies in the closing four holes including a birdie at the last to earn a spot in the playoff where he stayed consistent with three consecutive pars.
Denny, PGA Head Professional at Jamaica Run Golf Course began the tournament’s final round in seventh place, three strokes behind the leaders. An eagle on Sycamore Creek’s sixth hole helped move him up the leaderboard to earn a spot in the playoff.
Playing a three-hole aggregate score playoff, Kern opened with a birdie at the long par-5 16th giving him a one-stroke advantage over Bahr and three over Denny. Kern didn’t relinquish the lead as two routine pars closed out the championship and his first Southern Ohio PGA title.
Bahr and Denny earned a spot in the 2024 PGA Professional Championship based on their finish. Joining Bahr and Denny in qualifying for the 2024 PGA Professional Championship are; Kyler Booher, PGA Head Professional at Miami Shores Golf Course; Michael Auterson, PGA Head Professional at Hickory Woods Golf Course; Joe Moore, PGA Head Professional at Beavercreek Golf Club. The 2024 event will be the 10th visit for Bahr, fourth visit for Moore, third visit for Auterson, and the second visit for Denny and Booher to the National Championship.
Jeff Olson, PGA, Pat Delaney, PGA, Sam Arnold, PGA and Dan Halley, PGA earned spots as alternates from the Southern Ohio Section.
The 2024 PGA Professional Championship is scheduled to be played April 28-May 1, 2024 at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco.
Bob Sowards, PGA, Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Center, Ben Kern, PGA, Director of Golf at Hickory Hills Golf Club and Wyatt Worthington are exempt into the 2024 PGA Professional Championship based on their finish at previous championships.
Click Here to view the 78th Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship leaderboard.
Click here to view photos from the event.
The 2023 Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship is presented by Corebridge Financial, Club Car, and Rolex, and is supported by Titleist / FootJoy, Callaway, Nike, and TaylorMade. Supporting partners include Gallagher, Golf Channel and the PGA TOUR.
Thanks to the team at Sycamore Country Club for their commitment to hosting the 78th Southern Ohio PGA Professional Championship.
1 Ben Kern Hickory Hills Golf Club 72-73-73–218 +2 $3,300.00
T2 Richard Denny Jamaica Run Golf Club 75-72-71–218 +2 $2,050.00
T2 Dave Bahr Maketewah Country Club 73-73-72–218 +2 $2,050.00
4 Kyler Booher Miami Shores Golf Course 72-74-73–219 +3 $1,600.00
5 Michael Auterson Hickory Woods Golf Course 78-70-72–220 +4 $1,450.00
6 Joe Moore Beavercreek Golf Club 70-74-77–221 +5 $1,300.00
T7 Jeff Olson The Golf Club of Dublin 79-74-69–222 +6 $1,150.00
T7 Pat Delaney Reid Memorial Park Golf Course 76-68-78–222 +6 $1,150.00
T9 Dan Halley GOLFTEC – Dublin 75-73-75–223 +7 $940.00
T9 Sam Arnold Vineyard Golf Course 73-76-74–223 +7 $940.00
T11 Corey Weckerling Moraine Country Club 77-74-73–224 +8 $785.00
T11 Chase Wilson Columbus Country Club 74-74-76–224 +8 $785.00
T13 Andy Montgomery Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club 73-77-75–225 +9 $676.67
T13 Mike Thomas Sharon Woods Golf Course 80-71-74–225 +9 $676.67
T13 Jon Balyeat Kenwood Country Club 70-76-79–225 +9 $676.67
T16 Ben Chandler Little Miami Golf Center 73-81-72–226 +10 $605.00
T16 Reed Black Dayton Country Club 70-78-78–226 +10 $605.00
T18 Taylor Suggs Sharon Woods Golf Course 78-77-72–227 +11 $550.00
T18 Chris Muse Hickory Hills Golf Club 69-82-76–227 +11 $550.00
T20 Trent Kopala GOLFTEC – Dublin 78-76-75–229 +13 $490.00
T20 Wyatt Wilson NCR Country Club- South Course 78-74-77–229 +13 $490.00
22 Dan Gage Wedgewood Golf & Country Club 77-74-79–230 +14 $450.00
T23 Mike Kaido Zanesville Country Club 77-78-76–231 +15 $410.00
T23 Justin Van Heukelom Worthington Hills Country Club 77-76-78–231 +15 $410.00
T25 Alex Martin Golfweek Junior Tour 78-77-77–232 +16 $342.50
T25 Tim Krapfel Bel-Wood Country Club 77-77-78–232 +16 $342.50
T25 Chris Black Valley View Golf Club 79-73-80–232 +16 $342.50
T25 John Elking NCR Country Club- South Course 76-77-79–232 +16 $342.50
T29 Ben Bastel Worthington Hills Country Club 77-77-79–233 +17 $275.00
T29 Paul Hollenbaugh New Albany Country Club – North/East 74-78-81–233 +17 $275.00
31 Christian Hayden Granville Golf Land 75-78-82–235 +19 $240.00
32 John Gordon Oxford Country Club 78-77-84–239 +23 $230.00