Birmingham club pro to play in PGA championship

Harlan, Scillian, Gaidica, Smilovitz.
Harlan, Scillian, Gaidica, Smilovitz.

Matt Pesta is a golf pro at Lincoln Hills Golf Course in Birmingham. His kids in the Learn to Golf program call him "Mr. Matt" or "coach," but now they can call him "player."

"That's what makes the PGA championship special, professionals get a chance to play," he said.

Every year, the PGA invites 20 PGA professionals to play in the final major of the year. To get an invite, you have to finish in the top 20 in a national qualifying tournament.

That's exactly what Pesta did, and now he gets to play with the greatest golfers in the world at Valhalla in a few weeks.

"It's the dream of a lifetime," he said. "I've been on the front lines in the golf service industry for years, so to be able to play in a tournament like that, I've been ecstatic ever since I qualified."

So what will he do when he gets there?

"I've thought about it," Pesta said. "Maybe I would make as many friends as I could and mingle with the top players. But then I thought about it some more, and that's not my normal routine."

So he won't be taking any selfies with Tiger. He will be focusing on taking it one shot at a time and making the cut.

Even though this is his big moment, he said there is a life-lesson there for his students.

"It took me 28 years to get here," he said. "Perseverance pays off."

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