PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — One year after finishing runner-up, Jin Chung from the Georgia PGA Section returned with a mission and completed it Sunday at the Wanamaker Course at the PGA Club.
Chung, a Lawrenceville resident, shot two-under 70 Sunday and finished seven shots better than the next closest competitor to win the 2021 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship supported by Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO/Asics. The 33-year-old is a self-employed teaching professional who works out of Chateau Elan Golf Club in Braselton.
“This feels amazing,” said Chung, a former college golfer at Darton State in Albany. “After I finished second last year, I knew I was coming back. I wanted to come and win. I really like this golf course and this championship. I get a lot of support from fellow Georgia PGA professionals and the Georgia PGA. I just wanted to win this one, and I’m really happy it happened.”
Chung held off Brian Bergstol from the Philadelphia PGA section with a four-day total of 14-under 274. Bergstol entered the final round one-shot back, but shot four-over par 76. He finished second ahead of Eric Steger from the Indiana PGA Section and Jeremy Wells from the South Florida PGA Section.
Chung bounced back from a tough ending to his third round on Saturday where he double-bogeyed No. 17 and bogeyed No. 18 opening the door for Bergstol.
“I tried hard last night not to think about that,” Chung said. “It was just the one swing. So many good things had been happening this week with my game. I just went with the same attitude I’ve had, stay aggressive. This week I did a really good job of playing golf and not forcing anything. It worked. I really had to stay aggressive today and not back off.”
Playing with Bergstol and Wells, Chung started off well with a pair of birdies in his first five holes. He ran into trouble on Nos. 8 and 9, when he bogeyed back-to-back. He settled back in on the back nine.
“When I bogeyed 8 and 9, it was just mistakes from second shots,” said Chung. “I missed a green on 10 and it was down to a three-shot lead. I knew I had to really make par and couldn’t make any more bogeys. I made about a 9-foot par putt and from that moment I told myself, stay focused, stay aggressive and keep hitting greens. That was my focus on the back nine.”
Things really turned at No. 14. Chung saved par, but Bergstol and Wells both double-bogeyed which allowed the lead to stretch to five-shots. Chung, who had birdie putts on the next four holes, saved par on No. 15, birdied No. 16 and added pars on the final two holes to seal the championship.
“With this golf course, you really have to step up and hit it,” Chung said. “Then you have to really grind it out. It’s easy to make bogeys when you miss greens in the wrong spot. Even off the tee, you have to put it in play. You really have to focus and get a solid shot otherwise it gets tough. My Coach told me this week. Expect nothing, try for everything, so I tried to do that and it worked out.”
The field for the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship included PGA Assistant Professionals (A-8 membership classification) or registered Associates that earned berths through their local PGA Sections. They competed for a $150,000 purse, including the winner’s share of $12,000.