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Albany golf pro Skinner closes in on Champions Tour card

Sylvester resident and Albany golf pro Sonny Skinner will tee it up with the world's most elite field of 
golfers today when the season's last major -- the PGA Championship -- begins at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis. Skinner will be making just his second career appearance at the prestigious PGA Tour stop.

Sylvester resident and Albany golf pro Sonny Skinner will tee it up with the world's most elite field of golfers today when the season's last major -- the PGA Championship -- begins at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis. Skinner will be making just his second career appearance at the prestigious PGA Tour stop.

CORAL SPRING, Fla. -- Some folks are just about to wind their careers down at the age of 50.

Albany's Sonny Skinner? He's just getting warmed up.

But first things first, Skinner, the River Pointe golf pro who just turned 50 this year, has to finish in the Top 5, with ties, at the final leg of the Champions Tour Q-School to earn his PGA card on the men's senior tour. Skinner is attempting the feat for the first time -- and so far, so good: He's just four shots off the lead after two rounds and says he feels good heading into the final two days of the tournament in South Florida.

"Well, more than anything, you want to win it. I won $35,000 in three tournaments -- made all three cuts -- in the three Champions Tour events I played this year and I feel like I can compete and win out here," said Skinner, who has had a successful pro golf career playing on golf's other two tours, the PGA and Nationwide. "This is something I've been looking forward to for a few years as I approached 50, which is the age you have to be to play on the Champions Tour and right now I feel like I'm playing well."

Skinner, who qualified for this week's final stop in the Q-School format by finishing in the Top 15 in Monterey, Calif., recently, shot 4-under in the first round, then 2-under in the second round Wednesday. If Skinner finishes outside the Top 5, the next goal is to finish in the Top 12.

"If you can end inside that (cut line) you get an exemption to a half dozen events during the season," Skinner said. "But again, I'm not thinking Top 12 or Top 5. I want to win."

Filipino golfer Frankie Minoza currently leads at 10-under, although those tied for second place are just one shot ahead of Skinner at the moment, meaning he has a great chance of accomplishing his latest goal of his golf career.

"The course we're on this week (TPC Eagle Trace) is one where the Honda Classic was held (when I played on the PGA Tour) in the 1980s, so I'm familiar with it. And so far, I've had just one bogey in two rounds, which is great," Skinner said. "My putter hasn't gotten hot yet, but I'm hitting the ball pretty steady. That's what important."