Darren Black always had planned on getting a shot at playing on the PGA tour.
He just didn’t expect that it would come so soon. But that’s precisely what Black will have a shot at come next June.
It’s one of the rewards the first-year head-pro at San Juan Island Golf and Country Club claimed last week thanks to a fourth-place finish in the Pacific Northwest PGA Professional Championship, Aug. 18-20 at Avalon Golf Links in Burlington.
Black pocketed $3,000 in prize money. He finished fourth of 41 of the Northwest’s top golfers competing for a share of a $53,000 tournament purse and a coveted slot in next summer’s national championships.
“I think I’m playing smarter and not making as many mistakes,” Black said. “I guess I’m sort of maturing with the game, and just probably peaking.”
Black started swiftly at Avalon. He tallied a 70 on opening day, 2-under par, to finish Day 1 tied for the lead. He shot 73 in each of the next two rounds and finished seven strokes behind the winner, Jeff Costen of Semiahmoo, who took the title with a total of 209 strokes over 54 holes of golf, or 7-under par.
By finishing fourth at Avalon, Black clinched a slot at the National PGA Championship, a four-day tournament that begins June 27 at the French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind. That tournament will feature 320 of the nation’s top golfers competing for a share of $550,000 in prize money. The top 20 in that tournament advance to the 92nd annual PGA Championship.
(Y.E. Yang claimed this year’s PGA Championship title with a 3-stroke victory over the runner-up, Tiger Woods).
Black, 29, joined San Juan Golf and Country Club early this year as head pro, succeeding Brad Dally, following a three-year stint as assistant pro at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains, Ore.
He and his wife, Toni, have two boys, Drew, 6, and Devin, 1.
Black said his game, particularly around the green, can benefit from some fine-tuning. He said his final score at Avalon could have been a little lower had he dropped in a couple makeable putts.