Marty Jertson engineers 10-shot turnaround

A session on the range late Sunday helped Marty Jertson regain his comfort with his swing.

Marty Jertson engineers 10-shot turnaround

An opening 78 didn’t disappoint Marty Jertson, it just motivated him. He came back with the biggest improvement of the day.

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

SEASIDE, Calif. – After a tie for fifth in his PGA Professional National Championship debut at Hershey Country Club in 2011, Marty Jertson had high hopes as he made the trek to Northern California for this year’s edition.

However, it got off to a turbulent start for the 31-year-old PGA Professional, who is a Senior Design Engineer at PING Golf in Phoenix.

Jertson started out on the more difficult Bayonet Course on Sunday and turned in a disappointing 6-over 78.

Listen to anyone who saw it – including Danny Balin, one of Jertson’s playing partners – and they couldn’t believe it was only a 78.

As Balin put it, “Marty was getting up and down from everywhere.”

Jertson agreed.

“I knew I was putting it nice,” he said. “I was rolling it nice. Even yesterday, I left a few out there but I had a ton of up-and-downs. I think I only had like 10 or 11 putts on the front nine in the first round and I still shot over par on that side.”

So what went wrong? Jertson said he couldn’t get comfortable with his full swing. He had what he called a “getting stuck feeling” from his head and upper body dipping down.

“When I went to the range after the round, the key was to stay tall with my upper body and kind of get the club moving more from the inside,” he said. “Even on the range, there’s a pretty strong left-to-right wind. I was just trying to hit a draw so I could get the path more from the inside. I didn’t play the draw on the course, but I wanted to have that feeling and I ended up hitting it pretty nice today.”

Did he ever. Jertson had a 10-shot turnaround in Round 2 at Black Horse and, with a 4-under 68, he comfortably made the cut by two shots at 2-over 146.

“When I got off the range last night, I said, ‘I’m just going to go out and trust it,’” said Jertson, who made the biggest move of the day, soaring 168 spots up the leaderboard. “Things started to feel a little bit better and I dogged it out. It was tough out there, though. Wow.”

Things started looking up for Jertson early on Monday. Starting on the back nine at Black Horse, he birdied the par-5 12th hole, but gave the stroke back with a bogey at No. 15. Then, a bumpy, but productive roller-coaster ride began at the par-5 18th.

Jertson birdied the hole and then snagged another valuable birdie at the par-5 first hole. That followed with a bogey at No. 2, a birdie on No. 3, a bogey at No. 4 and then a very special par at the par-3 fifth that ignited the fireworks that were about to come.

“It was a real up-and-down stretch, but then I made a 12-footer for par at No. 5, the par 3,” Jertson said. “That was enormous for me. That was probably the putt that kept my whole round together.”

Next up was the 261-yard sixth hole, a driveable par 4.

With the wind blowing off the right, Jertson teed the ball high and hit a high, soft cut against the draw-wind. The ball floated, landed softly on the green and came to rest 6 feet from the hole, setting up a crucial eagle. 

“Danny Balin’s two brothers were up there clapping,” Jertson said. “I knew when they were clapping it’d be good, because otherwise, it’d probably be over the green. I think I got lucky with where I bounced to get it to 6 feet, but it probably made up for a few of the bad breaks I had yesterday.”

For good measure, Jertson closed out his round with a birdie at the par-4 ninth hole for the 68.

“I knew from last year that even-par made the cut and 1 or 2 under made the PGA Championship, so if you make the cut you’re in the hunt for making it,” he said. “That was obviously goal No. 1. I just plugged away. I was really trying to figure out what the number was going to be. I was trying to pay attention to the scores. I knew it was definitely going to be 3 over with a chance to go to 4 over and I just kept chipping away at it.”

Jertson points to his friend Steve Schneiter – the 1995 National Champ – as an example of what happens when you grind. Aside from his win, Schneiter has three runner-up finishes in the National Championship and has made an impressive 11 PGA Championship starts.

“I’ve known Steve Schneiter for so long,” Jerston said. “He’s just always making the cut and then gets in there. I’ll tell you what, though, I was still nervous. I think I was more nervous here trying to make the cut the first two rounds than I was coming down the stretch last year.”

Now that the hard part is behind him, Jertson can focus his attention on the reward that comes with solid play – a trip to Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship in August.

And he wants it badly. 

“I need redemption from the PGA last year,” said Jertson, who missed the cut at Atlanta Athletic Club with rounds of 75-84. “Obviously you never know once you get there how you’re going to do, but I feel like I need some redemption to get in another one and try to bring my A-game, because I certainly didn’t do that last year.”

Right now, he’s on the right track.