Albany golf pro Skinner wins opening event of PGA of America series in Fla.

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Winning never gets old to Sonny Skinner -- no matter the level.

Skinner, a Sylvester native and teaching pro at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, made a two-putt par on the first playoff hole Tuesday to win the opening event of the 34th annual PGA Tournament Series. It was Skinner's third Tournament Series victory, all coming on opening day, the last two years on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club and in 2006 on the adjacent Ryder Course.

The win was much-needed for Skinner, who was still trying to get over the disappointment of failing to earn his Champions Tour card two weeks ago during Q-School qualifying. Skinner, who needed to at least finish in the Top 12 for partial exemption on the Tour, or the Top 5 for full exemption, finished tied for 17th.

"It's good to get back on the winning track," Skinner said. "You know me ... as soon as one tournament ends, it's on to the next one."

Skinner and Adam Rainaud of South Hadley, Mass., ended the tournament tied at 8-under 136.

"I knew I was in trouble when Sonny hit his tee shot into the fairway in the playoff hole," Rainaud said. Rainaud, 24, drove into a fairway bunker, hit the lip of the bunker with his second shot and watched as the ball careened into a lake across the fairway. After taking his drop, Rainaud hit the green and sank a 12-foot putt for bogey, propelling Skinner to victory and the $2,700 first-place prize.

"He made me make that three-footer to win," said the 50-year-old Skinner, who two-putted from 25 feet for the victory to cap a solid two days during which he made just four bogeys in 36 holes, all by three-putting. "I still feel I played pretty well, with an eagle Monday and five birdies each day for 67-69. I was eight under par after 12 holes today, bogeyed 13 and 14, then birdied 15 and 16."

Gary Trivisonno of Aurora, Ohio, who had shared the first-round lead with Skinner and Simon McGreal of Greensboro, N.C., bogeyed the final hole for 70-137. He had birdied Nos. 15, 16 and 17 and overall made seven birdies and five bogeys. McGreal closed with 78-145 to miss the money list by a stroke. He had a triple bogey at the par-4 14th hole, two birdies, three bogeys and a double.

There were 54 starters and a purse of $13,500 for the first of six Series events this season. Play now moves to the nearby PGA Country Club on Thursday and Friday.

And Skinner says he's looking forward to the rest of the events, of which there will be two a week until the week before Christmas.

"We play two, two-day tournaments a week for the next three weeks and then I'll come home to spend time with my family before coming back in February for a few more," Skinner said. "The Champions Tour hasn't even released its new schedule yet, so I don't know when they'll be holding (qualifying events), but I'll try to qualify then."