Chad Proehl’s wallet gone, but goal’s in sight

Chad Proehl is eager for the chance to play in the PGA Championship.

Chad Proehl began his week by losing his wallet. After three rounds, though, he’s close to ending it by fulfilling his dream.

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

SEASIDE, Calif. – Chad Proehl, PGA Teaching Professional at Sugar Creek Golf Course in Waukee, Iowa, recorded one of just nine sub-par rounds in the third round of the 45th PGA Professional National Championship at Bayonet Black Horse on Tuesday.

Proehl fired a 1-under 71 on the Bayonet Course to get to 1-under 215 for the tournament. That has the 44-year-old in a tie for sixth; the top 20 finishers earn a spot in the PGA Championship.

Proehl got started in the right direction early on Tuesday with a birdie right out of the gate at the par-5 opening hole thanks to a fantastic up and down from short and left of the green.

“I think anytime you can start a round with a birdie it gives you a little more confidence,” he said. “The first two rounds, it seemed like it took me a little while to get going. It seemed like it was a struggle. But today, I had the pace right on the greens and I drove the ball fairly well, which always makes it easier.”

Tuesday was another flawless day on the Monterey Peninsula with bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. However, the wind was noticeably stronger than in the previous two rounds.

“It was the windiest we’ve had yet and the greens haven’t gotten any softer,” Proehl said. “They’re still very firm. The Bayonet greens are very nice. They’re great to putt on. I had a little trouble with Black Horse yesterday. They were very tricky. I think as long as you can keep the ball in the short stuff, you can give yourself some opportunities.”

Proehl also had birdies at the par-5 eighth hole and the par-4 11th, but gave both shots back with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14.

This week marks Proehl’s seventh start in a National Championship. He’s made the cut on three occasions, but his best finish is a tie for 42nd in 2010 at the French Lick Resort. He’s never played in a PGA Championship and is itching for the opportunity to do so.

“I get goose bumps just thinking about it,” he said. “I guess that tells you what it would mean. I’ve been here several times and haven’t made it through yet, so it would mean the world to go there. My wife is at home and she’s always told me, ‘Just stay in the moment and let’s try to get down there.’ It would mean a great deal.”

Proehl would never admit it, but he’s got to feel as though Bayonet Black Horse owes him one. 

Last Wednesday afternoon, he went into the clubhouse for a late lunch/early dinner. After he paid, Proehl walked outside, went back out to the course and a short time later had that sinking feeling you get when you realize you don’t have your wallet.

Proehl reached into his pocket and it wasn’t there. He retraced his steps and the wallet was nowhere to be found. It was gone.

“I could tell you the time,” Proehl said. “It was Wednesday between 3:30 and 4:15. There was a 45-minute window there where I lost my wallet. I had an early dinner in the clubhouse, paid for it – so I know the time. Then I went out there to play Black Horse in a practice round and by the time I got to No. 2 tee box, I was just checking and I didn’t have it. So, it was somewhere in there. I have no driver’s license right now. My wife did a wonderful job. She got me credit cards again. Getting a room key when you don’t have any I.D., that was tough. They read me the riot act.” 

As frustrating as that ordeal was, it would be a small price to pay for a trip to Kiawah Island and a spot in the PGA Championship.

“I haven’t lost any sleep these last few nights,” Proehl said. “I’ve been dead tired coming off this course. This is a lot of work. That’s putting me to bed pretty easily. To say I’m not thinking about the PGA, I guess I’d be fibbing a little if I said that. I’m just going to try to stick to my game plan on every hole, just plod along and see if I can put myself in a good position.”

So far, that plan has worked to near perfection.