Golf Buzz

June 23, 2014 - 2:01pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Ryan Helminen
PGA of America
After starting out 5 over through his first six holes on Monday, Ryan Helminen was able to salvage a 1-over 73 to put himself near the top of the PGA Professional National Championship leaderboard.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Ryan Helminen, a 39-year-old PGA Teaching Professional at Ridgeway Country Club in Neenan, Wisc., shot one of the most resilient 1-over 73 rounds you'll ever see on Monday in the second round of the PGA Professional National Championship.

At 3-under 141 through 36 holes, Helminen finds himself near the top of the leaderboard.

One day after firing a 4-under 68 at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Helminen was teeing it up at the statistically easier Grand Dunes.

RELATED: PNC Leaderboard | PNC coverage | Meet Mickelson's college roommate

Starting on the 10th hole, Helminen gave himself birdie chances on his first two holes, but couldn't get either to drop. Then things got a little out of control.

"After the first couple of holes, I felt great," he said. "I hit it in close on the first couple and had chances for birdies that I didn't convert, but then after that I left myself some longer birdie putts and just couldn't get the speed down. It was getting to me out there. I had a four-putt and a three-putt back-to-back on Nos. 14 and 15, but I knew I was still hitting it good and I was still rolling it good on the greens."

Those train wrecks at 14 and 15, along with a bogey on No. 12, meant Helminen was 5 over through his first six holes. Absolutely not the start he was looking for.

"I felt like my speed was just off a little bit and I was hitting it through the break," he explained. "I had putts going 4, 5 and 6 feet by. But I knew -- because the ball striking was so good -- that if I just stayed patient and not dwell on it, I could pull out of that."

And did he ever pull out of it, playing his final 12 holes in 4-under par with five birdies and one bogey.

"I made a long birdie putt today on my eighth hole that got me back to 4 over and also a couple of other long putts that I made toward the end that were critical and kept me in the game," Helminen said. "I shot 73, but I got a lot out of that round. When you're 5 over through six and going the wrong way, when you make a birdie and some par-saving putts, it lifts your spirits. Those kind of putts are what keep you in the game."

Helminen's final birdie came on his last hole of the day when he buried a 12 footer.

"The last hole was icing on the cake," he said.

Overall, this is Helminen's seventh National Championship start. His best finish was a tie for 24th in 2011. After fighting through a difficult second round relatively unscathed considering how bad it could have been, Helminen is in prime position through 36 holes to make a run at a berth in his first PGA Championship. 

June 23, 2014 - 10:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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The Dunes Golf & Beach Club
PGA of America
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club is the host venue for the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The PGA of America has instituted a new cut rule, beginning this week, for the PGA Professional National Championship.

Until this year, the top 70 scores and ties out of the 312-player field advanced to the final two rounds following the first 36 holes.

This year, the top 90 scores and ties will advance to Tuesday's third round. After that, there will be a 54-hole cut with the traditional top 70 scores and ties advancing.

RELATED: PNC Leaderboard | PNC coverage | Meet Mickelson's college roommate

"The tournament committee made this change because we feel that we have 312 of the finest PGA playing professionals in our organization and by moving the cut to 90 and ties versus 70 and ties after Round 2, we're giving those extra 20 players or more a chance to really shine, go low the last two rounds and maybe win the tournament," PGA Vice President Derek Sprague explained. "But, more importantly, it gives them a better chance to make the top 20 spots to earn a berth and advance to the PGA Championship August."

Sprague said the new rule has been well-received by the National Championship participants.

"The players are looking forward to it," he said. "Many of them have brought their families here as well, so it gives them that little extra cushion, if you will, with those 20 extra spots. It allows them to maybe enjoy another day here on the Grand Strand."

U.S. Women's Open trophy
Michelle Wie/Twitter
Michelle Wie took a photo of her trophy nestled in its protective metal case.

Ever wonder what happens to the winner's trophy after all the photos have been taken and the post-tournament celebration is over?

In the case of the U.S. Women's Open sterling silver cup Sunday, according to tweets from Michelle Wie, first it got a car ride:

 

 

Then it wound up in Wie's hotel room, safely tucked in its foam-lined protective metal storage case: 

 

 

And when asked if she took the trophy to bed to sleep with it, Wie said she did.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the metal trophy box will fit in the overhead storage or under the seat on her flight home. But I'm certain tournament officials will gladly pay the insurance to make sure it gets a prominent place on Wie's trophy case.

June 22, 2014 - 6:40pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Daniel Kinn
PGA of America
Daniel Kinn had a wild first nine holes at the PGA Professional National Championship on Sunday, making just one par.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Daniel Kinn of Sterling, Va., enjoyed a fantastic first round of 1-under 71 at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club on Sunday in the PGA Professional National Championship, but that doesn't begin to tell the story of his round.

Kinn, 26, started on the 10th hole. He didn't make his first par of the day until he reached No. 18 (his ninth of the day).

After a bogey on the 10th hole, Kinn birdied 11. Then he bogeyed 12 before rattling off five consecutive birdies.

RELATED: Complete PNC coverage | Preview | Get to know the Dunes | Photos

He credited the birdie run to some fine green-reading by his caddie, brother Jeff. 

"He read the greens about as well as anyone who has caddied only twice -- all for me," said Kinn.

Kinn shot a 39 on his back nine with three bogeys and no birdies. But all in all, it was a solid day for the PGA Professional at Dick's Sporting Goods in Sterling, who finished in a tie for 53rd in his first National Championship start a year ago.

"We caught a break with our pairing by not having a lot of wind," said Kinn. "Growing up in the Northeast on bent grass greens, I am not used to these Bermuda greens. They are firm and fast. You have a lot to think about." 

Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia finds himself behind a tree Sunday during the Travelers Championship.

Joyce Kilmer wrote a very famous poem about the wonder of trees, which provides the logical conclusion that Mr. Kilmer probably didn't play golf.

Trees seem to pop up on the course right where you don't want your golf ball to land. That was the case for Sergio Garcia on the 10th hole in Sunday's final round of the Travelers Championship. Garcia's tee shot seemed to be drawn like a magnet right at a very large tree on the left-hand side of the fairway and look what happens next:

 

 

It appeared Garcia's ball hit yet another tree, this one way over the gallery on the right side of the hole, and caromed back into the fairway. So two trees, one bad break, one good one. Garcia would go on to make bogey, however.

It's not like Garcia hasn't had previous experience with trying to hit around trees. One of the most iconic images of Sergio is his recovery from behind a tree in the 1999 PGA Championship.

If you haven't seen it in a while, here it is:

 

 

 

June 22, 2014 - 3:33pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Daniel Korytoski
T.J. Auclair/PGA.com
Daniel Korytoski, PGA Head Professional at Orchard Hills Golf Course in Newnan, Ga., was at the Dunes Club Sunday playing the waiting game and hoping for his first start in the PGA Professional National Championship.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Daniel Korytoski was living a lonely, anxious life Sunday on the driving range at the Dunes Club.

Korytoski, PGA Head Professional at Orchard Hills Golf Course in Newnan, Ga., you see, was the first alternate at the Dunes Club in the 47th PGA Professional National Championship.

Should anyone withdraw, Korytoski needed to be ready to run over to the first or 10th tee to take their place and make his National Championship debut.

RELATED: Complete PNC coverage | Mickelson's college roommate | Get to know the Dunes

"Obviously you don't want anyone to get injured or anything like that," said Korytoski, who had been by the Dunes Club driving range for roughly six hours already when we spoke. "It's been a long day. I got here nice and early, had a big breakfast after the morning wave finished teeing off. I initially went over to Grand Dunes, but there were two other alternates over there, so I said, 'well, I'm going to go over to Dunes Club then' and I'm the first alternate over here. The first alternate already got in over there."

That's right -- Justin Stelzer, an assistant professional from Rancho La Quinta Country Club, snuck into the field at Grand Dunes when 2001 National Champion Wayne DeFrancesco withdrew due to back problems.

"If I'm able to get in it would mean a lot," Korytoski said. "It's what we all play for. It would be very special. I've got a lot of support back home. It would be good to get in. It would be fun."

There was a withdrawal at the Dunes Club -- 1980 National Champion John Traub pulled out after hitting his opening tee shot. However, since Traub hit a shot, no one was eligible to replace him.

Korytoski said he left his home in Georgia at 3 a.m. on Friday to make the 6 1/2-hour trek to Myrtle Beach. Immediately upon arrival, he went out for a practice round.

"I was pretty tired after having driven 6 1/2 hours and then walking 18," he said. "But I slept good Friday night."

So what does an alternate do while hoping for that spot in the field?

A sweat-covered Korytoski explained.

"I've gotten in lots of practice today," he said. "Lots of practice and drinking lots of water just in case. Occasionally I've walked over to the first tee to find out what the situation is, but I told the officials, 'Listen, I'm right here at the end of the range. If someone's late, just wave your hand and I'll walk over there to see what happens.'"

And when he wasn't practicing, or checking in with officials, Korytoski was mingling with fellow Georgia Section member Sonny Skinner, who recently became the Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Award winner for the fourth year in a row.

"I know Sonny Skinner very well," Korytoski said. "He beats me to death whenever we play. Actually, I think I beat him one time for 18 holes, but that's about it. What a phenomenal player he is. His work ethic is second to none. He's the Senior Player of the Year and a good friend of mine. I'm glad we have him in the Section, but it's tough to be in the Section with him because he's so good. But, it makes everybody else better. We strive to get better because of Sonny."

On Sunday, Korytoski wasn't worried about Skinner -- he just wanted a spot in the field.