Jeff Reader was second to none at the 2020 Central New York PGA Section Senior Championship.


Reader (Cazenovia Golf Club) improved on his runner-up finish from a year ago to win his first CNY PGA Senior title Teugega Country Club in Rome. Reader birdied his final three holes to beat Michael Deuel by a stroke.


The 36-hole tournament for section players 50 and over was held July 26-27. Reader will lead four Section PGA Professionals to compete Oct. 15-18 in the 32nd Senior PGA Professional Championship.


The national Championship, presented by Cadillac and supported by Golf Channel and John Deere, will be held at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.


Reader carded six birdies against two bogeys for a 4-under-par 67 and finished with a 5-under 137 total. Deuel (En-Joie GC) made push to catch Reader with five birdies on the back for a 5-under 66 but was one stroke short at 4-under 138.


Reader entered the final round tied with Alan Savage (Turning Stone Resort). Both were one shot back of first-round leader Eric Manning (Elm Tree GC). Reader’s plan in the final round was to stay within striking distance of the lead on the back nine. He played in the final group of the day with Manning and Savage.


After a bogey on 15, Reader rallied to close out the round with three straight birdies to secure victory.


“I’ve stumbled a lot at the end of these events so I knew I had to bear down,” Reader said. “I knew I had a good shot (to win) after 16 and 17, making both putts for birdie then two-putted for birdie on 18.”


Reader’s victory was especially satisfying after falling short multiple times when he’s had opportunities to win.


“It’s nice to finish strong instead of weakly for a change,” Reader said. “I’ve won a couple of Assistants (Championships), I’ve won Section. So, it’s nice to get a Senior win too.”


Manning, after a 4-under 67 in the first round, finished with a 1-over 72 and placed third at 139. Defending champion Mark Tucker finished tied for fourth (70-71—141) with Savage.


Reader, Deuel, Manning and Tucker all qualified for the Senior PGA Professional Championship on Oct. 15-18. Tucker defeated Savage in a playoff to earn the fourth qualifying. Savage is the first alternate.


“I’ve been playing against most of these guys since junior golf, 40-something years,” Reader said. “I’ve lost more than I’ve won so it’s nice to get one. We all want to win but we’re all friends and root for each other.”


The Senior PGA Professional Championship brings together a field of 264 contestants representing the PGA of America’s 41 nationwide Sections and features a total purse of $300,000. The first two rounds will be conducted on the Ryder and Wanamaker Courses.


The first cut will be made after 36 holes of play to the low 90 scorers and ties.  The second cut will be made after 54 holes of play to the low 70 scorers and ties.  The final two rounds will be played on the Wanamaker Course.


PGA Golf Club — the PGA of America’s premier 54-hole facility — hosts multiple PGA Member championships annually, such as the PGA Works Collegiate Championship, PGA Jones Cup, National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, Senior PGA Professional Championship (biennially, in even years) and the PGA’s Tournament Series and Winter Championships.


Begun in 1989, the Senior PGA Professional Championship is modeled after the PGA Professional Championship, with a field of 50-and-older senior PGA Professionals who advanced through 41 Section Championships conducted from June through August this year.


The top 35 finishers in the national Championship earn a berth in the 82nd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which will be conducted in May 27-30, 2021, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


The top five finishers earn an exemption into the final stage of the 2021 PGA Tour Champions National Finals in November 2021. Since its debut, many participants in the Senior PGA Professional Championship have used their success in the event as a springboard to a PGA Tour Champions career.