Albany golf pro Skinner wins Fla. PGA event

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- River Pointe Golf Club pro Sonny Skinner will be the first to tell you, he's taken his share of second-place over the years.

Not on Tuesday.

Skinner, a native of Sylvester, finished the job Tuesday afternoon as he parlayed a first-round lead into a victory in the opening event of the 33rd annual PGA Tournament Series.

A teaching professional for the last several years, Skinner, 49, fired a closing round of five-under-par 67 to win by two strokes at 132 on the Wanamaker Course at the PGA Golf Club. He led by two after opening Monday with 65.

It was just Skinner's second career Tournament Series victory.

Coincidentally, his first was also in a season opener, Nov. 28, 2006, on the adjacent Ryder course when he beat Ron Faria of Bridgehampton, N.Y., on the second playoff hole after they tied at 135.

"I hit the ball a lot better (Tuesday) than (Monday)," Skinner said. "But I had 31 putts, compared to 23 on Monday."

Skinner caught fire Monday -- then ablaze in the final round Tuesday. He hit 12 greens in regulation in the first round, then 17 on Tuesday. He made seven birdies each round and two long three-putt bogeys Tuesday.

Skinner has played on both the PGA and Nationwide tours and tried to re-qualify last month, but played poorly at second stage, he said.

Though, after Skinner turns 50 in August, he becomes eligible to try for the 2011 Champions Tour.

Sean Gorgone of Orlando, meanwhile, finished second. Gorgone is a director of instruction at Sweetwater Country Club in Longwood, Fla., and fired a pair of 67s for a final tally of 134. He also had seven birdies each round, two bogeys Monday, an eagle, two bogeys and a double bogey Tuesday.

The first of six Tournament Series events this month drew 87 entries.

Skinner earned $3,725, Gorgone $2,525, from the $21,500 purse. The next event is scheduled Thursday and Friday at Hammock Creek Golf Club in Palm City.