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Championship Caliber: Tentis competes in fifth PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, KY - AUGUST 7: PGA Club Professional and Woodbury resident David Tentis hits a shot on 9 during the First Round of the 96th PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club, on August 7, 2014 in Louisville, KY. (Photo courtesy of Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

Woodbury resident Dave Tentis teed it up with the best in the world last week in Louisville, KY.

Tentis, 52, tied for 145th place at the PGA Championship -- one of golf’s four majors -- at Valhalla Golf Course after posting a two-day score of 158 off a pair of 79s in his only two rounds of action, coming in at 16-over par.

But one of his favorite memories from the event had nothing to do with himself on the course. It was his two kids, Kayden and Marshall, both 10, asking star Rory McIlroy for his autograph while they were in the player’s lounge. That autograph became even more valuable by the end of the weekend, as McIlroy won the event, finishing the tournament at 16-under par, to take home his fourth career major and second straight after he won the British Open in July.

Tentis, a club pro at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis., qualified for the event by finishing in a tie for eighth at the PGA Professional National Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in June.

“It’s a great experience,” Tentis told reporters after his second round 79 Friday. “It’s obviously a huge test to try and come in here and be competitive after putting the hours in at the shop. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a nice bonus that the PGA of America gives its members if you can finish in the Top 20.”

While the experience was undoubtedly special for Tentis, it was far from his first rodeo.

Tentis qualified for four-straight PGA Championships from 2002-05, which included stops at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, Wis., and Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. His best finish among the four appearances came in 2002 at Hazeltine when he made the cut and finished 68th.

Last weekend marked his fifth appearance at the PGA Championship -- his first since his four-year run came to an end.

A lot has changed in nine years.

“It was tougher,” Tentis said. “Players are better and stronger and hitting their drives very long. The courses have gotten longer, also.”

Conditions at Valhalla weren’t exactly ideal. Rain poured throughout much of Tentis’ second round of action. He said he warmed up during a downpour.

“Yeah, you know it was a little wet,” Tentis said. “But I mean it was playable, for sure. The greens were holding very nicely and putting nicely, too. Just another 79 for me.”

Tentis described Valhalla as an “amazing course,” adding that the course was very long and challenging with its multiple changes in elevation.

Tentis said it would have been nice to be slightly more competitive last weekend. None of the 20 PGA club professionals made the cut to play on the weekend.

“But the guys were fun to play with,” he said. “And, like I said, it's a great experience.”

Tentis said it is a goal of his to make a sixth appearance at a PGA Championship. Though if he is to do so, he’d like to be more of a factor in the tournament.

“My game needs to improve substantially if I want to be somewhat competitive,” he said.

The 2015 PGA Championship will once again be played at Whistling Straits, providing Tentis with some added incentive to make a run at another major appearance.

“Having it practically in our backyard does peek my interest,” he said.