Mueller goes wire-to-wire and wins the 60th PING Southwest PGA Championship

Playing in his first Southwest PGA Championship, Jesse Mueller made his debut one to remember. The co-leader in each of the first two rounds carded a 6-under-par 66 in the final round and captured the 60th PING Southwest PGA Championship by two strokes at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club.

At the start of the final round, Mueller, 34, PGA Director of Golf at Grand Canyon University G.C., was tied with Craig Hocknull for the lead and paired together in the final grouping of the day.

Both players wasted little time putting red numbers on the scoreboard as Mueller birdied four of the first five holes, including the first three, and Hocknull, after a par on the opening hole, rattled off four straight birdies at Nos. 2-5. Just like that, they were tied again.

Playing two groups in front of the leaders, Downs, 35, PGA Director of Instruction at Reid/West Golf Academies (Pebble Creek), began the final round four shots out of the lead. He managed to cut the deficit in half through nine holes. 

Downs, 35, PGA Director of Instruction at Reid/West Golf Academies (Pebble Creek), gave back two shots while Mueller and Hocknull parred the first three holes on the back nine.  

Hocknull, 42, PGA Director of Instruction at Outback Golf Academy, finished the back nine with a 1-under 35 and his 54-hole total of 204 (-12) left him in sole possession of third place behind Downs, who parred his remaining two holes.

Mueller earned his first Southwest PGA Championship title. He finished with a 54-hole total of 201 (-15) and earned $7000 for the victory. In addition, he earned an exemption into the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, scheduled to take place February 1-4 at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.).

Downs finished in second place with a total of 203 (-13). His 64 in the final round was tied as the low round for the Championship with Preston Otte, 37, PGA Head Golf Professional at the Highlands at Dove Mountain, who also carded a 64 in the final round. Otte finished tied for seventh place.

Jennifer Tucker, 34, PGA Teaching Professional at Desert Mountain, finished in 37th after making the 36-hole cut. She did capture the inaugural Southwest PGA Woman’s Championship, that was combined with the Section Championship, with a 54-hole hole total of 224 (+8).

The Waste Management Phoenix Open won’t be the first large event Mueller competes in. He qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., where he finished tied for 51st place. As a new member of the Southwest PGA, Mueller looks forward to playing with some of the top players in the country in member events.

Long-time Southwest PGA partner PING Golf was once again the title sponsor of the Southwest PGA Championship. Their continued support of the Southwest PGA and the Championship has elevated purse levels every year.

For a complete listing of the tournament results, visit or Southwest PGA,