Hooksett resident Rich Berberian Jr. is the longest of longshots to prevail at this year’s PGA Championship, which begins today at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.
According to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, Berberian is one of 22 golfers listed at 3,000-1 to win the tournament — the longest odds in the field.
It may not be accurate to say the 31-year-old Berberian is just happy to be participating in the PGA Championship, this year’s second major, but qualifying for the tournament alone had to bring him a certain degree of satisfaction. The director of golf instruction at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsborough, Mass., Berberian is one of 20 club pros who played their way into in the PGA Championship field.
To do so, Berberian had to finish among the top 20 in a field of 312 golfers who competed in the national PGA Professional Championship, which was played at Belfair CC in Bluffton, S.C., from April 28 to May 1. The PGA Professional Championship featured players from 41 sectional tournaments plus past champions.
Berberian finished the four-day tournament in a tie for sixth place by shooting a 1-under-par 286 (72-70-72-72). The field was trimmed to the top-90 players plus ties after two rounds, and the top-70 players plus ties after the third round.
Even making the cut in the PGA Championship would put Berberian in a select group, since only seven club pros have survived the cut in the last 10 years. One of those seven, Rob Labritz, is in this year’s field. Labritz, the director of golf at GlenArbor in Westchester County, N.Y., advanced to weekend play at Whistling Straits in 2010.
The best finish by a club pro in this event was a tie for 11th. Since 2009 no club pro pro has finished better than 42nd.
Berberian, who attended Pinkerton Academy, is participating in the PGA Championship for the fourth straight year. He also played in the 2015 U.S. Open.
Berberian’s father, Richard Sr., was the head professional at Hoodkroft Country Club in Derry. Berberian worked at Hoodkroft and then as an assistant pro at Windham Country Club before moving to Vesper.
Cameron Champ, who leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, and Lucas Glover are the other golfers in Berberian’s threesome. That group is scheduled to tee off this afternoon at 12:21. Glover and Tiger Woods are the only players in the field who have won a major at Bethpage Black, the site of Glover’s 2009 U.S. Open victory.
Berberian’s group is scheduled to start Round 2 on Friday at 6:56 a.m. (10th tee). The first two rounds will be televised by TNT.