Three PGA Club Professionals advance to weekend at Whistling Straits

Jeff Coston, of Blaine, Wash., Chip Sullivan, of Troutville, Va., and Roy Biancalana, of West Chicago, Ill., all rallied on Friday with fine play at Whistling Straits to make the cut at the 86th PGA Championship.

By Barry Pump, Special to

KOHLER, Wisc. ( -- When he stepped off the green on No. 9 and finished his round at the 86th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Jeff Coston pumped his arms, waved and egged on the crowd as he went to sign his scorecard on Thursday. When he came out of the clubhouse, he declared: "This is one for the club pros."

Coston tied for the day's second-lowest score - a 4-under par 68 - after Miguel Angel Jimenez, who fired a 65 in the second round. After two rounds, Coston has posted a 1-over par 145 for the tournament.

Coston, a PGA Teaching Professional and head of the Jeff Coston Golf Academy at Semiahmoo Golf Resort in Blaine, Wash., was one of three club professionals to make the cut at Kohler. The final cut was at 1-over.

Also making it to the weekend at Whistling Straits were Chip Sullivan, of Troutville, Va., the leader of the club pros at 1-under, and Roy Biancalana, a Teaching Professional at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club in West Chicago, Ill.

"For 10 years I have haven't played (Tour golf)," Coston said, "but I'm in a great section, and I love to play. I look forward to keep on going.

"I feel good about it. I'm two-for-two in the last two majors I've played, so that's pretty good," said Coston, who finished 50th at the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach. "One thing I can say is that I'm definitely happy I'm here. There are 25,000 PGA Professionals, and I'm thankful that there are 25 spots (for club professionals at the PGA).

"It's an honor to be playing in the national championship for The PGA of America."

In the first round, a double bogey on the par-4 first hole rattled the long-time player, who couldn't rebound and fired three more bogeys.

"That wasn't fun," he said. 'I kind of came back from that, and I felt like I just couldn't make birdies. Today, I could and some good things happened."

Challenging course conditions at Kohler didn't bother the seasoned Tour veteran who is nonetheless playing in his first PGA Championship, after finishing fourth at the CPC in June.

"I didn't get these wrinkles watching golf on TV," he said. "I've had a lot of experience."

Coston credited that experience in helping him overcome the disappointing round saying he was, "just trying to play one hole, one hole at a time."

The strategy paid off and the pro gained momentum after recording a birdie on the par-4 13th. Coston also had birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 17. The 518-yard par-4 15th hole is playing as the fourth most difficult hole on the course.

"You create and gain momentum, just like in any sport," Coston said. "You try to eliminate mistakes and take advantage of opportunities, and I was able to do that today."

Coston only hit five fairways in the second round, but he hit 13 greens in regulation. He also cut seven strokes off his game on the greens.

"I'm trying to stay out of the way, have fun, and let my abilities come out," he said. "That's always helpful, if you can chip and putt."

Sullivan benefited from his putter Friday, too. With only 25 putts, a 1.39 putt-per-hole average, Sullivan cruised in the second round.

"The putter was the reason. It got me through today," he said. "I didn't hit the ball nearly as well as I have in past tournaments, but my putter was doing real well.

"They felt about the same as yesterday. They were rolling nicely. I just have been able to see the line, and I have the stroke going."

Sullivan only hit five fairways on Friday and just seven on Thursday, but he said that Whistling Straits provides other opportunities.

"In this major championship, I don't need to hit too many fairways, and I still think I can make pars," he said. "Last year when I played Oak Hill, you better hit your fairways or you're not going to make pars. You can get some good breaks when you miss the fairways here, and I got some today."

Sullivan says that he is just trying enjoy himself with his play at Kohler, and that making the cut ranks "pretty high" on his list of accomplishments.

"We're out here enjoying ourselves as much as we can, and what a great setting?" said Sullivan. "I have a lot of friends here from Virginia, Louisiana and Wisconsin."

The last club pro to find out he was making the cut was Biancalana, who is playing in his first PGA Championship. He fired an even-par 72 on Friday to finish at 1-over.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard that 1-over was going to make the cut," he said. "I am elated. It's definitely the highlight of my life right now, just because of everything I've gone through in the last year to the two-shot penalty that I had to give myself yesterday."

After a rules violation during the first round cut two strokes off of his lowest round ever in a major, Biancalana got the two back with an eagle on the 593-yard par-5 second hole.

Biancalana had 297 yards to the hole and knocked a 3-wood to within 10 feet.

"It was the best three wood of my life," he said. "It was just the perfect shot. It almost went into the hole. It was Tiger-esque.

"I'm really proud of my game."

Biancalana said that he's worked with both a swing coach, John Elliot, and a sports psychologist, Rick Elion, before coming to Kohler.

"I've worked very hard. I've worked as hard as anyone on this planet," he said. "I just feel like a lot of the things I've worked on in the last year, coming down the stretch on the last nine holes, it really paid off."

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