It’s one of the odd statistics you can stump your friend on.
What native Washington golfer has played in the most PGA Championships in the past half-decade?
Not Fred Couples.
Not Ryan Moore.
It’s Seattle’s Ryan Benzel, who qualified for his fourth consecutive PGA Championship with a tied-for-11th showing at the PGA Professional National Championship in Indiana.
Playing in the final group, Benzel closed with a 6-over-par 78 on a windy day on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort.
“Never thought about it like that,” Benzel said of the growing number of PGA Championship appearances. This year’s tournament will be held at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin.
“It’s not easy. But it’s been fun working on trying to get there.”
What undid Benzel’s round was his tee shot on the long par-3 16th. Benzel hooked his shot so badly, it carried down a big hill, over a road and out of bounds. He had to take an unplayable lie, and ended up with a triple bogey on the hole.
“I didn’t want to finish on a bad note like that,” Benzel said.
Admittedly, it’s a different feeling for Benzel at this championship. The first year in Oregon, he held the lead into the final round, but was overjoyed he finished in the top 20 to get to his first PGA Championship.
Now, a fixture on the first page of the leaderboard, Benzel’s expectations have changed.
“The first year I did it, it was like, ‘I can’t believe I qualified for it.’ Second year, it was, ‘Alright, we did it again!’” he said. “Last year and this year, I was in position to win the golf tournament – and still qualified for the PGA (Championship), but it was more coming up short in winning the golf tournament, so it was a different kind of feeling.
“I’m at a point now I feel like I can try and win the championship. I think I’m more focused on winning it than making it to the PGA (Championship).”