A field of 156 players, including 11 former champions, are ready to tee it up Tuesday for the start of the Philadelphia PGA Championship, the most prestigious event of the season for the area's club professionals.
For the first time, two courses -- White Manor Country Club in Malvern and St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne -- will be utilized for each of the first two rounds of the 54-hole championship. After the 36-hole cut, the final round will be contested at White Manor.
The contestants will be playing for $65,000 in prize money, with $7,800 going to the winner. In addition, the top 11 finishers will qualify for the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship at Seaside, Calif.
Stu Ingraham, teaching pro at M-Golf Range in Newtown Square, holds a commanding lead in the Haverford Trust points race and can pretty much sew up his seventh Philadelphia Section PGA player of the year trophy -- and fourth in the last five years -- with a good finish.
Ingraham is one of 11 past champions competing. The others are defending champion Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford, Jim Masserio of Applebrook, Gary Hardin of Northampton, Brian Kelly of Bucknell, George Forster of Radnor Valley, Terry Hertzog of Bent Creek, Dave Roberts of Cedarbrook, Terry Hatch of Hidden Valley, Dave Quinn of Links, and John Pillar of Woodloch Springs.
Another contestant is Merion teaching pro Mark Sheftic, who is coming off a successful weekend for the winning United States team at the PGA Cup matches in San Martin, Calif.
In 2009, Sheftic flew back from the PGA Cup matches in Scotland the day before the start of the Philadelphia PGA Championship. He shook off jet lag well enough to tie for first place with Pillar at the end of the regulation 54 holes, but lost to a birdie on the first playoff hole.
"You've just got to bear down," Sheftic said last week before the PGA Cup matches began. "I'll hopefully get a little rest on the plane coming home. I'm sure I'm going to be a little tired the same way as I was two years ago.
"But it's a three-round event and you can play a conservative round on the first day to just keep yourself in contention. Then you get home, get some good rest, get some fresh legs and try to do something the second and third rounds."