Trailing by seven strokes entering the final round of the Philadelphia PGA Professional Championship at Laurel Creek Country Club, Terry Hertzog felt he had no chance to win. All he wanted to do was finish in the top 12 and qualify for next year's national championship for PGA pros.
But golf can be a strange game. With 36-hole leader Tony Perla struggling, Hertzog gradually moved into contention Thursday and eventually into the lead, then survived two bogeys down the stretch to win the 96th section championship with a final score of 2-under-par 210.
Hertzog, 52, director of instruction at the Country Club of York, closed with a 1-under-par 70 to become a three-time winner of the event. Philmont's Dave Quinn also shot a 70 for a 211 total, one stroke ahead of defending champion Jordan Gibbs of Gulph Mills, who had a 74.
Perla, of LedgeRock Golf Club, had taken a 5-stroke lead following his 64 in the second round, but he didn't play to the same level Thursday. He shot a 43 on the front side and finished with an 80 to wind up in a fourth-place tie with M-Golf's Stu Ingraham and Spring Ford's Rich Steinmetz at 213.
"I've been in Tony's position several times," Hertzog said. "It's that kind of game. I remember at Burlington in the early 2000s, I had a four-stroke lead going into the final round and lost, just didn't have a good day. It doesn't take much for your timing to be off and for your game to get away from you a little bit."
Hertzog found out on the 10th tee that he had moved into a tie for first, and he became the sole leader after birdie putts of 12 feet on No. 10 and 20 feet on No. 11. Although he three-putted the 16th hole for bogey and missed a 10-foot par putt on 18, he had just enough to win.
Hertzog, who won the section championship in 2001 and 2004, said this one felt "relieving."
"There was a big gap from the last time I won this," he said. "Thirteen years is a long time. We've got some great senior players that really play well. But I ask myself at this age, 'Hey, can I really get myself in that position again?' So it's pretty special."
Making it even more special was the fact that Hertzog's clubs were stolen last month, and he had just received a new driver, fairway woods, and a hybrid he liked.
"It wasn't a time where I thought I was playing great and I had a lot of confidence," he said. "But sometimes it's better that you just show up and go play."
Rusty Harbold of Philadelphia Cricket grabbed the last section spot in next year's PGA Professional Championship in Seaside, Calif. He tied for 12th with Applebrook's Dave McNabb, but McNabb already was exempt because he finished second in this year's national tournament.
Terry Hertzog, York 72-68-70—210
Dave Quinn, Philmont 71-70-70—211
Jordan Gibbs, Gulph Mills 71-67-74—212
Stu Ingraham, M-Golf 74-69-70—213
Rich Steinmetz, Spring Ford 74-69-70—213
Tony Perla, LedgeRock 69-64-80—213
Billy Stewart, ACE Club 75-67-72—214
Brett Melton, Radley Run 71-71-72—214
Brendon Post, U. of Delaware 68-72-74—214
Alex Knoll, Bethlehem 72-72-72—216
Mark Sheftic, Merion 73-70-73—216
Rusty Harbold, Phila. Cricket 70-72-75—217