Kyle Flinton
Kyle Flinton played one stretch of 26 holes in a remarkable 7 under par. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

Monday Notebook: Perseverance pays off for rebounding Flinton

Kyle Flinton turned a disappointing first round into an encouraging second round and is in great position after 36 holes. Plus, French Lick feels like home to Keith Ohr, and more from Monday's play.

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

FRENCH LICK, Ind. ( – What a difference a day makes.

Just ask Kyle Flinton. The 44-year-old PGA Head Professional from Quail Creek Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City needed something special at the Donald Ross Course in the second round of the 43rd PGA Professional National Championship, one day after laboring to a 5-over 77 on the Pete Dye Course.

And that’s just what he did, firing a 4-under 66 to get to 1-over 143 and four behind the leader. The round included a remarkable eight birdies, three bogeys and helped Flinton jump 131 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie for 14th.

The turning point, believe it or not, didn’t come in the second round for Flinton, but rather after the first 10 holes in the first round when he was 8 over for the championship.

“I think the satisfaction came for me in the first round was not giving up after nine holes,” he said. “I felt like I hit two poor golf shots yesterday. One turned out to be a triple and the other one was a bogey. I four-putted the first hole yesterday at the Dye Course. Birdieing 2, 3 and 4 – I told Tracy [his wife and caddie] coming in – if I could just somehow shoot 2, 3 or 4 under par that last nine holes and get in, I wasn’t going to be that bad.”

Flinton proceeded to play his next 26 holes in a remarkable 7 under par. He could have been 8 under was it not for a three-putt bogey on the final hole of the day, but he wasn’t disappointed.

“I knew I needed something good today,” he said. “I wanted to get back to even and I had a chance. I just had to two-putt the last hole to shoot 5 over and 5 under, but I three-putted. It’s fine. I told all my members, ‘If you gave me even par for these golf courses, I’d take it and stay in the house – not even play.’”

WEATHER UPDATE: Monday’s second round proved to be much more comfortable than the first round, thanks largely to the overnight rains and thunderstorms that doused French Lick on Sunday.

The inclement weather was expected to hang around until noon on Monday, but instead pushed out just before play resumed at 7:25 a.m. With the exception of a brief sprinkle, the second round was played under mostly overcast skies with temperatures in the mid-80s.

As for the rest of the championship, the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the high-70s to low-80s for the final two rounds.

NO PLACE LIKE (ALMOST) HOME: This week’s PGA Professional National Championship in French Lick is a home game of sorts for Keith Ohr.

The 35-year-old PGA Head Professional at Wildwood Country Club lives just over an hour drive from here in Louisville, Ky. Clearly, the home cookin’ is serving Ohr well. Through two rounds tied for sixth at 1 under, two behind the leaders, after shooting a 1-under 69 at the Ross Course on Monday to go along with Sunday’s even-par 72 at the Dye Course.

“It means a lot to be playing well so close to home,” Ohr said. “Except for last night, I stayed in my own bed the last few nights. That helps, being able to stay home with the kids. I’ve been trying to treat it as a normal round, you know, like it’s nothing special. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. You can’t get intimidated even though it’s an unbelievable tournament. You just have to treat it as normal and hope to play well.”

This is Ohr’s third appearance in the National Championship and his first since back-to-back missed cuts in 2006 and 2007. Needless to say, the father of two is pleased with his work the last two days.

“I 100 percent would have taken it if you had told me at the start of the tournament that I would be in the spot that I’m in right now,” Ohr admitted. “I didn’t know what to expect. These courses are hard and to be under par I’m excited. I like my chances. I like what’s going on. If we can get the putter going, we’ll see what happens.”

Despite the fact that Ohr lives in relatively close proximity to the French Lick Resort, he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience playing here.

“I came up two weeks ago and played the Dye Course one time and I saw this course [the Ross] for the first time one Wednesday,” he said. “It’s an awesome place, but it’s hard. It’s tough and I think the scores reflect that.”

As for the final two rounds, Ohr is going to try and apply a simple game plan.

“Fairways and greens and no doubles,” he said. “You’re going to make bogeys out here, you just hope that you make enough birdies to offset it and I’ve done that so far. Just don’t have a train wreck.”

Much easier said than done.

EXPERIENCE PAYS: It’s pretty safe to say that no one in this week’s 312-man field has more tournament experience than Bill Britton.

The 54-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck, N.J., spent several years on the PGA Tour racking up a whopping 419 starts with 222 cuts made, highlighted by a win at the 1989 Centel Classic.

After 36 holes at the National Championship, Britton is tied for ninth at even-par 142 and is just three shots off the lead.

“I suppose all my tournament experience helps,” said Britton, winner of the 2009 Senior PGA Professional National Championship. “I’ve played a lot of golf in my lifetime and I’ve played a lot of that golf on Pete Dye golf courses that are very difficult like the one here is. I think there’s some benefit to that, but of course some of these young guys have their advantages too. 

But overall I’m happy to be here and happy to be playing in such a nice tournament and to be playing well. We take it for granted a lot when we play well, but it’s nice to be playing good. It’ll be fun going forward.”

Britton was gritty throughout Monday’s second round at the Donald Ross Course, where he managed to squeak out an even-par 70 despite two early bogeys.

“I hit a lot of good shots,” he said. “Some didn’t turn out so good, but I managed to get up and down and hung in there and fortunately made about a 15-footer on No. 2 [his 11th hole of the day] for birdie and then on the long par-3 sixth hole, I hit a 4-wood to about 10 feet away and I made that. I hit a few lousy shots out there that I’d like to redo, but I hit a lot of good ones for the most part. I good have done a little better, maybe, but I could have done a lot worse too.”

This is Britton’s second appearance in the National Championship. His first resulted in a tie for 17th in 2004.

With two rounds in the books and a cut made, Britton now shifts his attention to the shot-maker’s Pete Dye Course.

“I think the Pete Dye is a really good course,” he said. “There’s been a lot of talk the last bunch of years about bombing it and gouging it out of the rough and a lot of the best players in the world are able to do that, because they’re so darn strong. But this is one of the few golf courses I’ve seen where I don’t think that’s an advantage. The rough isn’t difficult. It’s not having the strength to get the ball out of the rough over there.

“The thing that Pete Dye does is, if you hit good shots over there, you’ll score very well because the greens are pretty flat and simple. But if you hit bad ones where you just get a little bit out of whack, you end up with a bad shot or an awkward stance or a shot where a ball is way below your feet, you’re off balance – it’s not about hitting it far by any means, it’s about controlling your ball. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great course and it’s a beautiful place."

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