T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Paolozzi becomes second woman to make National Championship cut
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- With a 4-under-par 32 on her back nine Monday, Karen Paolozzi shot a 1-under 71 at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club to became just the second woman professional to make the 36-hole cut in the PGA Professional National Championship.
Her round was the best ever recorded by a woman professional in this tournament as well.
Paolozzi's 36-hole total of 2-over 146 left her just six shots out of the lead.
"This is exactly what my goal was," said Paolozzi after joining Suzy Whaley at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course in 2005 as the only other woman professional to make the National Championship cut. "I wanted to make the cut. I wanted to come here and play well. I was a little disappointed after yesterday, but I knew if I put in a solid round today, I had a chance."
After a bumpy front nine, things weren't looking so hot for the 31-year-old assistant professional from Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta. She made the turn in 3-over 39 after a double bogey at the seventh hole, but collected herself beautifully on the back.
Paolozzi air-mailed the 10th green with a 9-iron, but chipped in for an unlikely birdie.
"I was struggling a little bit with the greens, but I was hitting the ball pretty good," she said. "I was getting my yardages right. On No. 10, I was in the rough, just kind of in a crazy lie, so I flew the green. I thought, 'Oh, here we go again.' But I made a nice little chip and I happened to chip it in and that turned it all around for me. I got a little more confidence and then made that birdie on 11 after hitting a great shot in there. Making that birdie putt just got me going even more. The putter got really hot on the back side."
Paolozzi added birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 before closing out the round with a solid two-putt par at the last.
"I'm very happy with the round," Paolozzi said. "Today's conditions were different. There was a little bit more of a breeze, but it wasn't as hot. Yesterday was just so sticky and hot. The breeze actually felt good. It made the club selection a little more difficult, but you just have to decide what you're going to do and do it -- and hope that it's correct."
Paolozzi's driver, she said, was the key to her round.
"My driver was in really good shape today. I hit it really solid off the tee. Actually, on 17 I'm not supposed to hit driver, but I decided I was hitting it too well."
Paolozzi said she has received a warm welcome from her fellow male professionals throughout the week.
"A lot of the guys have been coming up to me and just congratulating me for making it here, which has been great," she said. "You always wonder what their thoughts are -- the different yardages are always a topic of discussion (Paolizzi played from roughly 900 yards shorter than the men on both courses) -- but most of the guys have come up and congratulated me on making it."