Stephen Behr and Katie Kirk captured their respective divisions in the inaugural PGA National Club Championship last Monday at Pinehurst Resort. The tournament, which brought together 312 club champions from 48 states across the country, was played across three stroke-play rounds at Pinehurst Nos. 2, 6 and 8.
Behr (above), a former All-American at Clemson who was representing the Golf Club of Georgia, raced to a five-stroke lead by shooting a 6-under 66 on the No. 6 course on the opening day, but fell back with a second-round 79 on the historic No. 2 layout that has hosted multiple U.S. Opens. He was the only player in the field to shoot better than 70 on the final day, his 3-under 69 sending him to a four-stroke victory ahead of 13-year-old Jack Roberts.
“It was a pretty rollercoaster effort for me,” Behr said. “Pinehurst No. 2 completely ate my lunch, but I was really happy with how I handled my nerves the last day. It was cold and windy, so I actually think it was a better round than the 66 the first day.”
Behr was the first Clemson player since Kyle Stanley to lead his team in scoring average his freshman and sophomore seasons, but his talent also extended well beyond the course. He won the Byron Nelson Award his senior year for outstanding efforts in golf, the classroom and the community, finishing with a 3.93 grade point average in accounting.
The sales support associate for software company SAP now plays mid-amateur golf and is among the best in the country. In 2020, he won the Birmingham National Invitational, finished third at the prestigious Azalea Invitational and got a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour LOCALiQ Series' Alpharetta Classic where he finished sixth.
Kirk, a 28-year-old who played collegiately at East Carolina University and now represents TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte, dominated the women’s division. She opened with 2-over 74 on Pinehurst No. 2 to take a six-stroke lead and then had the low round of the day again in Round 2 on No. 6, shooting another 2-over 74. Despite stumbling to a 7-over 79 in the final round, Kirk still cruised to a five-stroke victory ahead of Allison Cooper-Wix from the Country Club of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.
“Looking at some of the scores, it seemed like No. 8 played the toughest and I was able to be really consistent and give myself a good lead after the first day,” Kirk said. “I knew it was never over until it’s over, but really playing great golf the last day and you could tell she was trying to make a charge.”
Kirk won the Dinah Shore Trophy her senior year of college, the women’s equivalent of the Nelson award that Behr won. She graduated with a degrees in economics and mathematics with a 3.99 GPA.
Upon earning a spot in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur, Kirk passed on her planned attempt to qualify for a professional career. Less than a year later she discovered a torn labrum in her left hip and eventually chose to stay in the amateur game, where she has won two Carolinas Women’s Amateurs.
In the senior men’s division, Coleman Tidwell of Idle Hour Golf & Country Club in Georgia shot 3-over 219 to win by two strokes. In the senior women’s division, Patty Moore of Pinehurst carded a second-round 70 that spurred her to a nine-stroke victory.