Portland golfer to compete at PGA Championship

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Portland’s Shawn Warren, a golf pro at the Falmouth Country Club, has qualified to compete in this week’s PGA championship.

Shawn Warren is looking at the 100th PGA Championship this week at the Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri, as a second opportunity to make it as a touring pro on the PGA Tour.

The 33-year-old Falmouth Country Club teaching pro qualified for pro golf’s fourth and final major of the year in mid-June at the PGA Professional Championship at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, California, which awarded 20 spots to PGA teaching professionals across the country into the 156-player field for a chance at “Glory’s Last Shot.”

“This is kind of skipping over a few steps, as far as how the path is supposed to go,” Warren, of Portland, said. “I certainly have pursued playing full-time in the past; I haven’t given up on that at all. I am looking at this as more of a first as opposed to a once-in-a-lifetime type of situation. I think this will happen again, I think it’s going to happen a lot more.

“Some people look at it, when they do get to this point, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For me, it’s not really not the case — this is more of a first of many.”

Warren graduated from Windham High School in 2003 and played four years at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. After college, he tried to qualify to play on the PGA Tour by going through the Tour’s Qualifying School, but never made it past the second stage. He has made his mark as one of the best golfers in New England, including being named PGA New England player of the year for three consecutive years from 2013-15.

The PGA Championship will be Warren’s first career PGA Tour start. 

Warren almost made the PGA Championship three years ago when he was in a five-man playoff at the PGA Professional Championship, but just missed out on qualifying.

He found himself in a similar situation this past June when he was a part of a nine-man playoff battling for five spots. He fell into the playoff after making a bogey on the 72nd hole of the four-round tournament, but bounced back by making a 14-foot birdie in the playoff to secure his spot among the world’s best.

Being in a similar situation three years ago helped him this time around.

“It’s one of those things where it almost kind of alleviated some of the stress, in the fact of I’ve been there before, I kind of knew what to expect,” Warren said. “Going there for a second time, just like anything, I mean it sometimes just takes one time to learn it and a second time to kick the door down.”

Warren is still processing the impact of that key birdie putt.

“It still really hasn’t set in,” Warren said. “I don’t think it will hit me until Thursday when I get out there, or Monday when they start letting (the fans onto the grounds), but it’s definitely surreal. I am still trying to grasp the whole entire situation.”

Warren didn’t do too much homework on Bellerive before leaving for the tournament this past Thursday, but he did speak to Mike Tucker, the head pro of the course, to get some tips. Tucker told him the greens are big and lag putting will be key. It’s the first time Warren has ever heard someone describe that the key to success will be lag putting.

Bellerive, which sits 20 minutes outside of St. Louis, measures out at 7,547 yards from the tips and is a par-71 layout.

Part of not doing homework before leaving was that while players like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas can work on their game every day and play in tournaments every week if they so choose, Warren doesn’t have that luxury as a teaching pro. Especially since his business has picked up in the past month-and-a-half, since he returned from California.

“As far as at (Falmouth Country) Club, it has been business as usual,” Warren said. “I have been teaching quite a bit. With me getting through (to the PGA Championship), the lessons have picked up dramatically. I have picked up a few more clients that way, which has been nice. As far as golf goes, I have been working with my instructor about the mental side (of the game) and the swing a little bit more than normal. I am trying to get everything dialed in before heading out west.”

Warren said he has done a good job managing his time between teaching lessons and working on his own game.

He has competed in tournaments since the PGA Professional Championship, including placing 40th in the Greater Bangor Open with a three-round score of 213 at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. He also has played in a handful of New England PGA tournaments in Maine and around New England.

Warren is expecting a gallery of 75-100 family and friends following him around at the PGA Championship.

“I mean, it’s going be great, I think the fact people are going out to St. Louis — it’s not like it’s in Boston,” Warren said. “It means a lot.”

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