David Paeglow led a scoring attack on The Donald Ross Course that yielded 13 of the top 16 finishers Sunday. (The PGA of America)
Illinois' unsung Paeglow makes big first-round splash
David Paeglow, whose best career finish in the PGA Professional National Championship was a tie for 66th, carded a career-best -- and competitive course-record -- 5-under 65 Sunday for the clubhouse lead in French Lick, Ind. By Bob Denney, Senior Writer, The PGA of America
FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- It was David Paeglow's moment to shine among his PGA Professional peers Sunday, and it all happened with nearly 30 minutes to spare before sundown at French Lick Resort.
The PGA head professional at Kishwaukee Country Club in Dekalb, Ill., whose career-best performance in the showcase event was a share of 66th in 2005, posted a competitive course record 5-under-par 65 on The Donald Ross Course. That was good for a two-stroke lead in the 43rd PGA Professional National Championship, where 45 players among a 312-member field could not complete their first round due to darkness.
A passing thunderstorm halted play at 9:57 a.m. Sunday, forcing nearly a two-hour delay. The first round was completed Monday morning at 7:25 a.m. on the Donald Ross and Pete Dye Courses.
The Championship, presented by Titleist, FootJoy; and Club Car continues through Wednesday, with the field trimmed to the low 70 scorers and ties on Monday evening.
Paeglow led a scoring attack on The Donald Ross Course that yielded 13 of the top 16 finishers. Jeff Hull of Watkinsville, Ga., and Troy Pare of Wauregan, Conn., who awakened Monday to post a par on the 18th hole at the Donald Ross Course, sit alone at 3-under-par 67.
They are followed by a five-player group at 68, that includes defending Champion Mike Small of Champaign, Ill.; Bob Gaus of St. Louis; Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga.; Grant Masson of Little Rock, Ark.; and Brian Thornton of Sumner, Wash.
The top performers on The Pete Dye Course, who all share in the new competitive course record of 1-under-par 71, include 2002 National Champion Barry Evans of Charleston, W.Va.; Jeff Martin of Warwick, R.I.; and Rich Steinmetz of Gilbertsville, Pa.
Paeglow, 43, who has never won a major Illinois PGA Section event and missed the cut in three of his four previous National Championship appearances, was a force on the 6,885-yard Donald Ross Course. He eagled the par-4 eighth, and added four birdies to offset a lone bogey at the par-3 13th hole.
"I birdied one, right off the bat," said Paeglow, "I made a 25-footer that got my confidence going a little bit. I was hitting greens in regulation, and just trying to get to the center of the green. My putter started getting hot and I started getting more confidence."
That confidence boost was the result of Paeglow's approach at the 390-yard eighth, a gap wedge that landed 30 feet past the hole and spun back into the cup. That pushed him to 4-under-par and kept his adrenaline flowing.
"I tried to keep my composure and keep playing steady golf," said Paeglow. "The center of the green was the key, really not putting myself in a tough spot and short side myself or get on the wrong side of the ridge."
The thought of being chased and not in the back of the pack, is a new feeling for Paeglow, whose best home state performance was a tie for sixth in the 1999 Illinois Open.
"It was hard to tell which course would be the most difficult one," said Paeglow, whose caddie this week is brother, Richard. "That's news to me [that Donald Ross would play easier]. The [Pete] Dye can be more challenging with the distance and the wind. I was trying to make as many birdies as I could and not stop. We have a lot of golf to play. There are a lot of great golfers in this tournament and I'm just trying to get as many birdies as I can."
The opening round featured a standout effort from 1984 Champion Bill Schumaker, 60, of Columbia City, Ind., who made a record 29th appearance. He posted an even-par 70, which included nine closing pars, on The Donald Ross Course. On Monday, Schumaker will become the all-time leader in rounds played with 87.
"It was a good round for me. I didn't hit the ball all that well, but I chipped and putted pretty well. I kind of got away with it," said Schumaker, the PGA head professional at Crooked Lake Golf Course in Columbia City. "Hopefully, I can hit the ball better tomorrow, but the Dye Course is a little long for me, so I'm going to have to be chipping and putting to do any good."
Hull and Pare turned in contrasting performances for their 67s at The Donald Ross Course. Hull, the PGA teaching professional at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, bogeyed the first hole, holed out for eagle on the 422-yard third hole, then added three birdies before a bogey at 15.
Pare, the PGA head professional at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I., offset a double bogey at 14 by at the Donald Ross Course by collecting five birdies, including four in his first 11 holes.
It was a day of focus for those negotiating The Pete Dye Course, which yielded three sub-par rounds.
Evans, who captured the 2002 National Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, closed with a 33 on the back nine. He was 3-under-par for his final 10 holes.
"It was a grind out there today, but I caught a couple breaks," said Evans, who began play on the back nine. "I hit it into a divot on 11, but got lucky and made par. I hit it over the green at 18 into a bunker and was hitting it almost waist high and made par. I hit all of the fairways until 18. I was 3-under the last 10 holes.
"Dead calm this is a brutal test. I'm very proud that I was able to turn in a round like this today. I putted very well and am really happy. The putter I have is actually three inches shorter than the one I won with in 2002 at Valhalla."
For Martin, who tied for 10th in the 2008 Championship, and shared 16th last year, he declared his day at Pete Dye's demanding layout was a major boost.
"I'm pretty excited about this round. It's a pretty demanding golf course," said Martin, whose round includes an eagle at No. 3, to go with three birdies and four bogeys. "There's no shot that you can fall asleep on. I thought about playing The Donald Ross Course first, but now I've got this one out of the way and that gives me a good feeling. I know that I can't take anything for granted."
The PGA Professional National Championship, which originated in 1968, features a $550,000 total purse and PGA Professionals representing 43 states and 41 PGA Sections.
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