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Albany golf pro Skinner named PGA of America Player of Year

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.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., and Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, longtime friends and competitive rivals who posted some of the most dominant performances in recent years, grabbed the respective 2010 PGA Professional and Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year awards handed out by PGA of America on Wednesday.

Skinner and Small will be honored Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla., during the 2010 PGA of America Awards program, in conjunction with the 58th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center.

Skinner, a 50-year-old PGA teaching professional at River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, finished with 1,642.33 points to cruise to the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honors.

"I am fortunate to have a club that encourages me to play," said Skinner, who joined River Pointe Golf Club in 2006. "And, I am thankful that The PGA provides the opportunities it does for its members to play in great events. It was a good year, and a pleasant surprise that I could go on to earn this award after turning 50."

Skinner opened his 2010 season by winning the Taylormade-adidas Golf PGA Senior-Junior and Match Play Championships. He added his National Championship runner-up performance with a share of sixth in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship in October, and capped the year by finishing runner-up on the PGA Tournament Series money list in December.

Skinner made the most of his first venture into the 50-and-older ranks, and just missed earning a Champions Tour full-time playing privileges during last fall's Qualifying School. He added 225 points as the Georgia PGA Senior Champion; and added 219 more in three Champions Tour events and 115.5 through seven Nationwide Tour outings.

The PGA Professional Player of the Year award began in 1984, while the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year honor made its debut in 1995. Small and Skinner are the only representatives of their respective PGA Sections to earn the national award.