Like anyone who has contended for the championship of the Haverford Philadelphia PGA Classic, Andrew Turner did his best last year to keep the lucrative first-place prize out of his mind before he lost just a bit of focus late in his round.
"Definitely you can't really get through the entire round when you're in contention without having it creep into your mind," said Turner, who seeks to defend his championship and pocket another $100,000 winner's check – the largest prize of any event in the PGA of America's 41 sections – in Tuesday's 18-hole tournament at Sunnybrook Golf Club.
"I realized on 15 tee that I was 5-under and that's usually good enough to win. I hit a really crummy shot and made a bogey so that kind of helped bring me back to earth. Then on 18, a couple of our greens staff showed up, and our chef showed up. I hadn't looked at the leaderboard all day but when everybody shows up to watch you, you kind of get a good feeling of where you're at."
Turner, 34, an assistant pro at Sunnybrook, finished with a 4-under-par 68 and a two-stroke victory.
A Lancaster native who has played on mini-tours up and down the East Coast, Turner will be among 138 Philadelphia Section PGA professionals competing in the 22nd annual event sponsored by the Haverford Trust Co. More than 85 percent of the $117,600 purse goes to the winner.
Other past champions in the field are Dave McNabb of Applebrook, Rusty Harbold of Philadelphia Cricket, Billy Stewart of ACE Club, Scott Reilly of Philadelphia Country Club, Hugh Reilly of Twining Valley, George Forster of Radnor Valley and Dave Quinn of Philmont.
Turner said Sunnybrook, a par-72 that will play at 6,893 yards, got through the tough winter and recent rain in good shape.
"We had our pro-member [tournament] last week and everybody came off saying the golf course is in great shape," he said. "The rough is very thick and with the rain we've had [Sunday] and the day before, I expect to see people off the fairways struggling to score well."
As for his game, Turner said he had "not been playing all that great" recently, although he added he might have found something during recent practice sessions that will help.