The weather was as spectacular as the panoramic view over the 11th and 12th holes of the Pete Dye Course on Tuesday. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
Tuesday Notebook: Dye Course gives up scores
Low scores are rare on a Pete Dye golf course, but several players managed low third-round numbers. Plus, the weather's fine, Troy Pare's family-friendly caddie choice pays off, and more.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
FRENCH LICK, Ind. (PGA.com) -- If they didn’t know it before the start of the 43rd PGA Professional National Championship, then the best PGA Professionals in the country have learned quickly that low scores are hard to come by on a Pete Dye golf course.
Especially the Pete Dye Golf Course.
On Moving Day in the National Championship Tuesday, David Hutsell of Baltimore, Md., fired a 2-under 70, which was sure to make a lot of players envious. It helped the 39-year-old PGA Director of Instruction from the Elkridge Club soar 27 spots up the leaderboard and into a for 20th at 2 over.
The top 20 finishers here earn an automatic spot in the field at Whistling Straits later this summer for the season’s final major, the PGA Championship.
“Just tried to keep it in play, as usual,” Hutsell said. “On this golf course, if you get it going a little sideways, you’re going to make a big number real fast. I just tried to play conservative and hit fairways and greens. I was fortunate enough to do that for most of the round.”
Hutsell said he had a feeling the round would be a good one after his first two shots of the day to the first green, which he said were nice and solid. He two-putted for par there, but snagged his first birdie of the day on No. 2, holing a 15-footer from the fringe.
“Then, I started stringing some pars together on the front nine,” Hutsell said. “On No. 11, they moved the tees up today and I hit driver just off the front edge and two putted there. At No. 12, I hit a pretty good drive there and a 5-iron to the back left pin and rolled in about a 12-footer.
"After that, I made a great up and down on No. 13. I hit it long and left, about pin-high left, really didn’t have a lot of green to work with, but was fortunate enough to get it up to about four feet and save par there, so that kept things going. Unfortunately, I had a little hiccup on No. 17 and I missed the green to the right there, but all in all, I was very pleased.”
Hutsell is no stranger to Pete Dye courses. About a dozen or so years ago, one was built in his home town: Bulle Rock Golf Course.
“It’s got a similar look and feel to here,” he said. “He’s very good at making things look a lot harder than they are. You stand on the tee box and it looks like you’ve got nowhere to hit it then you get out there and you realize, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more room than I thought.’ And then the green surrounds are always treacherous. If you hit it decent and in anywhere on the green, then you’ve got a fairly decent chance to two-putt. If you start missing it around the greens, then it gets really tough.”
Hutsell admitted that prior to the round he had a feeling that anything around par would help him move well up the leaderboard. Turns out, he was two better than that.
“To get it in at 2 under was all that much more pleasing,” he said. “Anything under par is a great score on this golf course. Even par is a great score on this golf course.”
In five National Championship starts, Hutsell has yet to make the PGA Championship. His chance is as good as ever if he can hang around par in the final round.
Hutsell already has a game plan.
“Having played in this tournament a handful of times and having been in that borderline top-20 situation to go to the PGA, you can’t press it too much,” he said. “Par is going to be a good score. If you can do that and a couple of birdies happen to fall, that’s all the better. But I’d take even par tomorrow and be very happy.”
AS GOOD AS IT GETS: So far at the National Championship, we’ve seen rain -- which led to a 2-hour delay in the first round -- but it’s mostly been a steam bath with high heat to go along with that uncomfortable high humidity.
For the third round, Mother Nature did a welcome 180. Temperatures were much lower for the third round -- right around the mid-80s -- and the humidity dropped significantly, making for a much more comfortable day.
A nice, refreshing breeze even helped to keep things pleasant.
NOT TO BE OUTDONE?: Mike Small has nothing to prove to anyone on the golf course. The University of Illinois men’s head golf coach is the defending National Champion, a two-time winner of the event and will be vying for his third title on Wednesday, when he takes a four-shot lead into the final round at the Pete Dye Course.
It also appears that Small isn’t going to be outdone by one of his own players.
Illini junior Scott Langley has already had one heck of a summer. First, he won the U.S. Open Gateway Section Qualifier, where 32 players were battling for one spot in the field at Pebble Beach.
Next, on June 2, Langley eagled the 17th hole in the final round to win the NCAA individual title.
A couple of weeks later at Pebble Beach, Langley tied for 16th in the U.S. Open and tied for low amateur honors.
Regardless of what happens in the final round, it looks like it’s already been a great year for Illini golf fans.
LUCK BE A LADY: For the first time in four cracks at the National Championship, Troy Pare -- the PGA Head Professional at the Donald Ross classic Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I. -- decided to put his wife, Kimberley, on the bag.
And, for the first time in four tries, Pare made the cut.
“I guess she’s good luck,” Pare said after firing a 4-under 68 on the Pete Dye Course in the third round to jump into a tie for seventh and become very much a threat to qualify for his first ever PGA Championship on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Pare was magnificent on a day where he believed a low score was out there for the taking.
“I thought a low score was possible today,” said Pare. “I looked at the leaderboard and there were a lot of guys that were shooting some good scores today. They had the course set up hard, but fair. If you’re hitting some good iron shots, you certainly can score out there.”
Surprisingly, Pare had three three-putts on the front nine and still managed a 68.
“I didn’t play all that great on the front side,” he said. “I actually had three three-putts on that side and still made the turn at even, so I felt pretty good. I made a couple of good up and downs to start the back nine and keep the round going. Then I ended up birdieing 14, 15 and 16 hitting all good shots in there. Then I made a nice up and down for par on No. 17 and then a great birdie on No. 18 to close it out. I was pretty happy overall. I feel like I’m getting a lot out of my rounds. Even though I three-putted three times, I still shot 68.”
Pare admitted that while he’s trying not to think ahead to the chance of teeing it up at Whistling Straits in August, it’s hard not to.
“I’d be lying if I said you don’t think about it, because you certainly do,” he said. “My main goal right now is just to get the driver going. I’ve been hitting my driver kind of crooked all week. Everything else feels good, so if I can just get the driver going I’ll be fine.”
And is he paying his caddie well?
“I’ll be spending his check,” Kimberley laughed.