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Albany pro Skinner is Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year — again

River Point Golf Club pro Sonny Skinner captures his second straight Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year award, and Skinner said it was the recent passing of his father that inspired him throughout the year.

River Point Golf Club pro Sonny Skinner captures his second straight Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year award, and Skinner said it was the recent passing of his father that inspired him throughout the year.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Sonny Skinner had one thing on his mind this year whenever he stepped on a golf course — his dad.

Inspired by his father, Henry Skinner Sr., who recently passed away, Sonny finished as the Low PGA Club Professional in the Senior PGA Championship on his way to earning his second consecutive Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year award.

And Skinner, the PGA head professional at River Pointe Golf Club, said his thoughts were never far from the man who was responsible for where he is today.

“What made this year different was the fact that I spent the year without my dad, who was my inspiration,” Skinner said. “We played a lot of golf together. I played all year with him on my mind. He inspired me to pursue my interest, my passion.”

Skinner, 51, finished with 945.33 points to edge close friend, Craig Stevens of Dallas (873.5) for Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honors. Bob Gaus of St. Louis, Mo., was next with 674.17; followed by Stu Ingraham of Harrisburg, Pa., with 625.75, and Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, Calif., with 612.5.

Skinner is the only Georgia PGA Section member to win the award. In 2008, he captured PGA Professional Player of the Year, which made him the only PGA of America member to win both awards.

Skinner collected 225 points in the PGA Tournament Series, winning one event and finishing second on the money list.

He shared 10th in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship; was runner-up in the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship and finished as the Low PGA Club Professional in the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

“The year was quite a duel, as it turned out,” Skinner said. “I was very happy to join David Hutsell and others and play for my country in the PGA Cup. And, I did something different when I registered for the U.S. Senior Open, entering my given name, Henry Skinner Jr. It was my way of honoring my dad.”

Hutsell, of Baltimore, Md., was named the 2011 PGA Professional Player of the Year.

It was the first national award for Hutsell, 41, the second player from the Middle Atlantic PGA Section to capture the honor and whose campaign included winning the PGA Professional National Championship in a playoff last June at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.

Hutsell and Skinner will be honored Jan. 27, in Orlando, Fla., during the 2011 PGA of America Awards program, in conjunction with the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center.

The final Player of the Year standings were determined based on a point system involving both national and PGA Section competitions from Jan. 1 through Dec. 15, 2011.