By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
Little old Poxabogue Golf Club in Sagaponack will soon be represented on one of the biggest stages in all of golf.
Rob Corcoran, an assistant club pro at Poxabogue, has qualified for the 96th PGA Championship, to be played at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, from August 7 to 10.
Corcoran, 38, will make his major golf debut after an impressive 12th place finish at the PGA Professional National Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last month. In the fourth and final round on June 25, Corcoran shot an even-par round of 72, including a score of two-under on the back nine, to remain at 4-over (292) for the tournament.
Of the 312 club professionals who began the week in Myrtle Beach, only 20 advanced to play in next month’s showcase event for the PGA.
“This will be my first major,” said Corcoran, who spends his winters playing and teaching in Melbourne, Florida. “I wish I had got into a few more, but it’s tough.”
Corcoran qualified for last week’s National Club Pro, as it’s often referred to, with his second-place finish in last July’s Metropolitan PGA Professional Championship at the Rockland Country Club in Rockland County. During that tournament, Corcoran shot a second round score of 61, which set a new course record at the time.
After working for the summer at Poxabogue, he returned to Florida over the winter and spent the last six months preparing for last week’s tournament, studying the greens at The Dunes Golf Club online and working on his game so that it fit to that particular course. The result of his hard work will be his first-ever appearance on the PGA tour, and in a major nonetheless.
“I’m very comfortable with my golf game right now,” said Corcoran, who entered the back nine at The Dunes outside the top-20. “I had some stretches of brilliance, and some stretches of driving the ball into the trees and three putts. I was a riding a rollercoaster all week. But I played my last 11 holes of the tournament at three-under par. “
Corcoran made two huge par saves on 10 and 11, then birdied 12 and 13 to put himself back into position to qualify for the PGA Championship, the only major men’s tournament to reserve a large number of spots for club professionals, with 20 spots in 156-player field set aside.
“After those two birdies, I stepped up to the 14th tee box and I had a calm that came over my body,” Corcoran said. “I thought to myself, ‘whatever happens from here to the clubhouse, I’ve already proven I’ve had a really good tournament and I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t finish well.’ I just played golf.”
Corcoran pared the last five holes of a very difficult golf course to stamp his ticket to Valhalla this August.
“The big deal is to go down there and make the cut,” said Corcoran, tempering his expectations as he plans to leave the East End for Kentucky on Saturday, August 2. “My plan is to play practice rounds with guys who have similar games to mine. I’ll see how they manage it and just pick their brains and be a fly on the wall inside the ropes.”