NEW YORK (WCBS)- Each year, the PGA Championship offers 20 spots to club professionals from around the country to play against the world’s best in one of golf’s four major tournaments. This year, the 2019 PGA Championship is set to be played at the famed Bethpage State Park Black course for the first time ever. There will be six New York-area club pros taking to the course next week when the tournament tees off on Thursday. Here are some things to know about each of them.
Alex Beach, Assistant Professional, Westchester Country Club
The 29-year-old Beach won the 2019 PGA Professional Championship last week at Belfair Golf Club in Bluffton, South Carolina to earn his spot in the PGA Championship. Currently the assistant golf professional at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, Beach will be making his second appearance on the PGA Tour after previously qualifying for the PGA Championship in 2017 at Quail Hollow. He unfortunately missed the cut in 2017, but will be looking to better that finish this year at Bethpage. In winning the PGA Pro Championship, he became just the second lefthander to win the tournament after Rod Perry did so in 2013.
Danny Balin, Head Professional, Fresh Meadow Country Club
Balin finished as the runner-up to Beach at the PGA Pro Championship, and was actually succeeded by Beach as the assistant pro at Westchester when Balin left to become the head pro at Fresh Meadow. The 37-year-old from Irvington, New York, does have some experience playing at Bethpage as he won a pair of New York State Opens there in 2012 and 2013. He will be making his second consecutive PGA Championship appearance, having played at Bellerive last year. It’s the sixth overall appearance he has made in his career, including four straight from 2010-2013.
Jason Caron, Head Professional, Mill River Club
Caron finished 4th at the PGA Pro Championship, earning his first career invitation to the PGA Championship. The 46-year-old head professional at Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, New York is a former PGA Tour and Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour pro. He has played in 63 Tour events in his career, with a pair of top-25 finishes, but hasn’t played on Tour since 2010. His wife, Liz, played in the 2015 Women’s PGA Championship that was held at Westchester Country Club.
Brian Mackey, Head Professional, Hollow Brook Golf Club
Mackey finished in a tie for eighth at even par to earn his invitation to the PGA Championship. The head professional at Hollow Brook Golf Club in Cortlandt, New York, Mackey will be playing in his first PGA Championship. Mackey is a former collegiate player at Division-II Dominican College, where he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in September of 2018.
Rob Labritz, Director of Golf, Glen Arbor Golf Club
The 47-year-old Labritz, from Pound Ridge, New York, holds the distinction of being the lone player among this group to have advanced to the weekend in a PGA Championship. He accomplished that feat back in 2010, when the tournament was held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. That appearance in 2010 is one of five previous appearances he has made in the PGA, with the most recent coming in 2016.
Tyler Hall, Director of Instruction, Upper Montclair Country Club
The 37-year-old Wayne, New Jersey native earned his spot on the PGA Championship by sinking a birdie putt on the third playoff hole last week. It will be his first appearance at the PGA. In addition to his golf career, Hall holds his personal training certificate, and has been around golf for over 20 years, caddying for his dad when he was in high school.