With a birdie on the second playoff hole in Hershey, Pa., Wednesday, Havre de Grace native David Hutsell won the 2011 PGA Professional National Championship on the East Course at Hershey Country Club.
"It's pretty crazy," Hutsell said Thursday morning. "First of all I'm just trying to be in the top 20. It's my biggest golf accomplishment by far."
The top 20 finish guarantees a spot in the 2011 PGA Championship to be held in Atlanta, Ga., in August.
Hutsell and fellow competitors, Faber Jamerson and Scott Erdmann, each finished the four-day national championship event with score totals of minus 11, two shots better than the next player, Danny Balin, who shot a course record round of minus 8 to finish fourth.
The three-way tie forced the sudden death playoff for the coveted Walter Hagen Cup and a few perks that come with winning the championship. A $75,000 payday, a spot in the 2011 PGA Championship, a spot on the PGA Cup team and exemption into six PGA events in 2012.
The playoff hole sequence began on hole 18, a 456-yard par 4 that each had parred to close out their rounds.
Hutsell and Jamerson both parred again, but Erdmann bogeyed, eliminating him from the playoff.
Hutsell and Jamerson then played hole 17, a 430-yard par 4, that just minutes earlier in regulation play, Hutsell birdied and Jamerson bogeyed.
Hutsell stayed consistent, making birdie for the third time in four tries, while Jamerson ran into trouble off the tee. His tee shot came to rest just inches from the base of a tree, requiring a left handed shot to get free.
It was Jamerson's fourth shot that finally put him on the green, where he two-putted for double bogey.
Hutsell hit a wedge out of the rough to within eight feet of the pin and then in style, rolled in the birdie putt to clinch the title.
Leading to the playoff
All three players came to the par 3, 16th hole at minus 12 for the championship. All three saw their tee shots fade left of the green on the 215-yard shot.
Jamerson came away with par and playing partner Erdmann bogeyed. Hutsell, playing in the group in front of them, double bogeyed when his bogey putt lipped out.
Erdmann went par, par over the final two holes, while Jamerson was bogey, par and Hutsell was birdie, par, to set up the three-way tie.
Hutsell, who led the field in greens in regulation (60 of 72), made his charge to the top over the third and fourth rounds.
After making the cut with back-to-back rounds of minus 2, Hutsell shot a bogey free round of 67 (-4) in round three to sit at minus eight with one round to play, four shots off the lead.
"I knew going into that final round I had a chance," Hutsell said. "I just didn't know how good. There's always people moving backwards."
Hutsell says he wanted to put some pressure on the players ahead of him early in the final round and he did just that. Birdies at one and five moved Hutsell to minus 10, but the round and championship hope got a real jolt at the 554-yard par five sixth.
"I hit a 3-wood 255 yards, a little into the wind to four feet of the cup," Hutsell said. "It set up a great opportunity."
Hutsell cashed in on the opportunity, making the putt for eagle and putting his name atop the leader board.
Hutsell parred the final three holes on the front nine, part of a bogey-free, 33-hole run that started in the second round.
"With about 10 or 12 holes left, I realized I was right there and I started to change my focus," he said. "It was nice to be in the hunt."
A bogey at 11 was traded with a birdie at 12, setting up the final six holes of play, highlighted by the final three and the two playoff holes.
The 40-year-old Hutsell will turn his focus to the PGA Championship to be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club in August. After that, Hutsell will be part of the PGA Cup team that will battle golfers from Great Britain and Ireland in Ryder Cup format. The competition will be held Sept. 16-18 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
Hutsell, a 1988 graduate of Havre de Grace High School, says he will definitely play in all six PGA events he will be invited to next year.