By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
MEDINAH, Ill. -- It started with 19. Once the 36-hole cut fell at even-par 144 on Friday, only two PGA Professionals remained in the field at the 88th PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club.
Jim Kane was the best of the club professionals. The 48-year-old, who plays out of Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond, Okla., shot his second consecutive 1-under-par 71 on Friday to move to 2-under 142 for the tournament, six shots off the lead.
"It was obviously a great round," said Kane, who had just three bogeys through 36 holes. "I had periods there where I had some really great up and downs. It was, overall, a great round of golf. I made a great save from the greenside collection area on 18 for par. There are always places where you can improve in a round, but I played a really great round, and I am satisfied."
This is Kane's second PGA Championship appearance, but his first was 14 years ago when he played in 1992 and finished tied for 66th at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
"I am really excited to make the cut," he said. "Being that I am a club professional, and do not play very much competitive golf, especially at this level, I am very excited about it. On the weekend, I hope to play as well as I can possibly play, just like the last two days. If I can hit some good shots, and make some good putts, we will see what happens."
Don Yrene, the 39-year-old head professional at the Golf Club of Scottsdale in Arizona, was the only other PGA Professional to make the cut. Yrene shot an even-par 72 Friday and that, along with Thursday's 71, put him at 1-under 143 for the tournament -- more than admirable in his first-ever PGA Championship.
However, unlike Kane, Yrene did it the hard way.
With just five holes left to play, Yrene was at 1-over for the tournament and in need of some serious magic if he had any chance at making the cut. He didn't have to wait long, as that magic appeared on the longest hole on the course -- No. 14, a monstrous 605-yard par 5.
Yrene's drive at 14 sailed left and got hung up in some heavy rough. From there, he chopped the ball back into the fairway with a 7-iron, leaving himself nearly 200 yards to the hole.
"Then I hit a 5-iron from 190 yards and knocked it in for eagle," said an excited Yrene. "I was then able to settle down and get my confidence going and that put me to 1-under. Going into that hole, I was 1-over and I knew I was close to the cut."
After the incredible eagle, Yrene managed to roll off four straight pars to close the round -- no easy feat at Medinah.
"It feels great -- awesome," he said. "Obviously, it was the goal to make it to the weekend and to play as well as I can, but to actually have it as a reality that I am going to be playing the next two days is great."
Perhaps the most shocking of the club professionals to miss the cut was Ron Philo Jr. The head professional at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, N.Y., is the reigning PGA Professional National Champion, having won that title at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y., back in June.
Philo got behind the eight-ball early with a 10-over-par 82 in the opening round. He did, however, rebound nicely and posted a 1-over 73 in the second round.
"How could you beat teeing off at the PGA Championship?" asked Philo, who made the cut and finished 66th at the 87th PGA Championship at Baltusrol in 2005. "People pay to go to fantasy camp and I get to walk around with them. I'm not going to be miserable after my round.
"If I could have made a couple more birdies, maybe I could have made three in a row. If lightning struck, I could have made another three in a row and I would have been coming down the stretch with a chance."
Of the 17 club professionals who missed the cut, Mike Small might be feeling the worst. Small, the head golf coach at the University of Illinois, won the National Championship in 2005 and finished alone in fourth this year to earn the right to play in a major championship on his home turf.
Small recorded five bogeys Friday, but also picked up an eagle and two birdies to post a 1-over 73. He ended the tournament at 1-over to miss the cut by just one shot.
"I came out and hit it really well starting off, but my putter wore me out the whole week," said Small, who was playing in his third straight PGA Championship. "It is frustrating because I had a lot of good chances with birdies and didn't make many and then I made a good one at No. 16, and then I was back to not playing so well the next three or so holes. I bogeyed four out of five holes."
Here's a look at how all 19 of the PGA Professionals fared after 36 holes:
Jim Kane - 71-71 (-2) T33
Don Yrene - 71-72 (-1) T42
Greg Bisconti - 70-78 (+4) MC
Kelly Mitchum - 71-79 (+6) MC
Mike Small - 72-73 (+1) MC
Steve Schneiter - 72-79 (+7) MC
Lee Rinker - 72-75 (+3) MC
Chris Wiemers - 73-76 (+5) MC
Jerry Haas - 74-79 (+9) MC
Alan Schulte - 75-77 (+8) MC
Craig Thomas - 76-70 (+2) MC
Tim Weinhart - 77-74 (+7) MC
Jeffery Cranford - 77-75 (+8) MC
John Aber - 78-73 (+7) MC
Sam Arnold - 78-84 (+18) MC
Chip Sullivan - 79-72 (+7) MC
Barry Evans - 81-79 (+16) MC
Mark Brown - 80-77 (+13) MC
Ron Philo Jr. - 82-73 (+11) MC
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