Heather Downs Director of Golf Sutton Leads NOPGA Senior Professional Championship

CANTON: Can a club professional from the Northwest make it two wins in a row in the Northeast?
That will be the task at hand for Dan Sutton on Thursday when the final round of the 2020 Senior Professional Championship is played at testy Brookside Country Club.

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With an opening 2-over 73 Sutton, the Director of Golf at Heather Downs Country Club, was one of the few pros to challenge Brookside’s 7,155-yard, par-71 layout, let alone beat it.

“The golf course won today,” a number of players from the NOPGA said as they turned in their scorecards.

Sutton, who said he saved his round with a rare birdie on the 416-yard 16th hole, will take a one-shot lead over host professional Gary Robison, a five-time winner of this event into the Second Round.

With rounds of 69-67—136, Perrysburg’s Steve Stone was the medalist last year when the event was held at Oberlin Golf Club. Stone, a Teaching Professional at Maumee Golf Center, opened with a 77 on Wednesday.

Three other players – Brecksville GolfTec’s Kevin Sullivan, Shawnee Country Club’s Steve Mulcahy and Tony Adcock, who plays out of Seven Hills Country Club — shared third place at 3-over 75.
The top four finishers will advance to the 2020 Senior PGA Professional National Championship, which will be held on October 15-18 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Four alternates also will be chosen.

Sutton, who doubles as the Head Coach at St. Francis DeSales High School, had nines of 34-39 over Brookside’s 7,155 yards. He was one of the few players under par as he stood at one-under after 11 holes. Four straight bogeys on holes 12 through 15 slowed him down until a momentum-changing birdie on the demanding 416-yard 16th hole with its severely-sloped green.

Sutton, 52, had 180 yards to the green after a drive down the left side that came to rest under some trees. A 5-iron shot found the back edge of the green and rolled back down the slope to about 10 fee and he made the putt.

“That birdie saved the day,” said Sutton, who finished with pars on Brookside’s back-to-back par-5s. “Especially coming off the four straight bogeys.”

Former Ohio Open Champion Dennis Miller had the only other birdie on the 16th.

“There was a lot of strategy and a lot of patience out there today,” said Sutton, who had three birdies on his opening nine, including back-to-backers on the final two holes. “Early on I was watching some of the guys and I thought there would be a lot of bogeys out there. For me to get through that front nine with solid pars and the three birdies put me in good shape.”

With many players lamenting the speed of Brookside’s greens, Sutton had just one 3-putt, which had to be the best in the field of 30.

Play resumes Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.