Bensel of New York carries lead into finale at PGA Assistant Championship

frank bensel
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Frank Bensel carded eight birdies and only five pars during his wild and crazy third round.
By
Randy Stutzman
PGA of America

Series:

On "moving day" at the 34th Callaway Golf PGA Assistant Championship, veteran Frank Bensel of Purchase, N.Y., used a third-round 3-under-par 69 and 208 total to grab a one-stroke lead Saturday over Adam Rainaud of South Hadley, Mass., heading into the final round at PGA Golf Club.

In a round that included a total of only five pars, Bensel carded an astounding eight birdies to grab the lead on the Wanamaker Course.

"I hit some great shots, and hit some errant shots, as my scorecard indicates," Bensel joked. "I made a whole lot of both. But I take only positives from the round today."

Bensel, who is playing in his fourth PGA Assistant Championship, is looking forward to playing in the final group in the final round of a National Championship.

"I have got to go out and play offense tomorrow, and limit my mistakes," said Bensel. "I can't get in the wrong spot often, because this course is tough if you get off line at all."

Rainaud, a PGA apprentice at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., followed up a nearly flawless second round with an equally up-and-down third-round 71.

"If you told me coming into the round I would have had a 71, I wouldn't have taken it," said Rainaud. "I wanted to try and separate myself from the field and wasn't able to do that today."

Championship rookie Rainaudis looking forward to competing against the veteran Bensel, and knows it will take a strong effort to win on Sunday.

"I am only a stroke back and I won't change how I play my game whether I am two back or two in front," said Rainaud. "I am excited to play with Frank [Bensel], he has been here before and hopefully I can learn something from him."

Travis Deibert of Jamison, Pa., a PGA apprentice at Commonwealth National Golf Club in Horsham, Pa., shot a third-round 69 and sits alone in third place overall.

Karen Paolozzi, a PGA apprentice at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., and one of only two women competing in the Championship, shot a third-round 71 and sits in a tie for 11th overall. She came out strong, with birdies on two of her first three holes.

"I wasn't hitting the ball especially well, but I was getting away with it for the first few holes," said Paolozzi. "I need to roll some good putts tomorrow to give myself any kind of chance. That's the most important factor for me."

Paolozzi is on track for the lowest finish by a woman in the history of the Championship. In 2008, Julie Peluso became the first woman to make the cut in the history of the PGA Assistant Championship, finishing in a tie for 52nd.

"You can't beat no bogeys in a round," said Rainaud. "I've only missed five greens in two rounds and have been hitting great iron shots. I wasn't in a lot of trouble today and just wacked the ball out there in play."

Jennifer Heinz, a PGA assistant professional at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., shot a third-round 71 and sits in a tie for 50th.

The par-72 Wanamaker Course yielded a Championship-low 72.93 scoring average in Round 3.

Following Friday’s second round, the field was reduced to the low 70 scorers and ties, with 71 players making the cut at 5-over-par 149.

The Championship featured 126 PGA assistant professionals and apprentices. The format was changed in 2010 to include the top four finishers from last year's Championship as well as 122 players who advanced through their Section Championship.

Also at stake, provided the Champion meets eligibility requirements, is a coveted spot in the 44th PGA Professional National Championship, June 26-29, 2011, at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.

Callaway Golf has returned as the title sponsor for the second consecutive year.

The PGA Assistant Championship continues a tradition of excellence in bringing together some of the most talented players in The PGA of America as well as being models of the caliber of members who make up the world's largest working sports organization. Past champions include past Ryder Cup Team members Fred Funk and Loren Roberts, and past PGA Professional National Champions Darrell Kestner, Tim Thelen and Bruce Zabriski.