Dirk Schultz usually gears up with buddies to head to Florida in December for plenty of golf. This year, his trip is a little earlier than normal, with much more at stake.

The Beaver Creek Country Club pro will play in the 28th Senior PGA Professional National Championship at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Nov. 17-20. He qualified for a spot by finishing in a second-place tie at 1-under 143 in the Middle Atlantic PGA Seniors at Rocky Gap in August. He also has a recent championship in the Maryland State Golf Association Senior Open at Hillendale.

“To qualify for the Senior PGA Championship next year would be a great way to cap off the year,” said Schultz.

The goal for Schultz and the other 263 players in the field is to finish in the top 35. The reward is a spot in the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National in Washington next May 23-28.

“You know 16-under won last year so that is not far-fetched,” said Schultz. “Last year I just wanted to qualify, this year I’d like to really get wrapped into this and finish as high as I can. There are a lot of great golfers in the field, including some former Champions Tour players.”

In the years he has headed to Florida, Schultz has made an occasional stop at the PGA Village, home of the tournament.

“It’s a fair driving course and there is a lot I remember about it,” said Schultz. “I don’t want to do anything crazy.”

Schultz can make it 2-for-2 as a senior if he can duplicate his showing from last year in the Senior PNC in Seaside, Calif., where he finished in a tie for 28th place by shooting an even-par 288. That gained him a spot

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