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Tim Weinhart, a PGA Teaching Professional at St. Marlo Country Club in Duluth, Ga., shot a 4-over 74 in Thursday's opening round at Oakland Hills. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Esposito grabs low PGA Club Professional honors with 71

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Frank Esposito Jr., the PGA Head Professional at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, N.J., scrambled his way to a 71 Thursday, the low round among the 20 club professionals in the field.

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The PGA of America is showing off its own collection of "Greatest Hits" as the 90th PGA Championship takes place just outside of Motown at Oakland Hills Country Club.

Among the field of elite golfers, the strongest field of any major championship, are 20 PGA Club Professionals, all of whom earned the right to participate and represent their Association by virtue of their play in the PGA Professional National Championship held this past June.

More PGA Championship:
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Full Leaderboard
PGA Club Professionals
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"It is a great honor to be here this week, in an event run by The PGA of America," said Jeff Martin, a PGA Assistant Professional at Point Judith Country Club in Narragansett, R.I. "We get to play in a major if we make the top 20 each year (in the PGA Professional National Championship) and that is great."

Added Curt Sanders, a PGA Assistant Professional from Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C., "To be playing a tournament with these kind of crowds and the level of play ... you know I was teeing off on No. 14 and I look over and there is Rich Beem, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson so that was pretty neat.

"It is well worth the time I put in and it is pretty special to be part of an organization like this that has its own tournament and allows 20 guys [PGA Club Professionals] to play in it. I have nothing but good things to say."

This championship is the first PGA Championship for both Martin and Sanders, who shot matching 8-over 78s in their opening rounds.

Frank Esposito Jr., the PGA Head Professional at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, N.J., shot an impressive 1-over 71 to turn in the best round for a Club Professional on opening day.

"I really scrambled out there today and I need to do the same thing again tomorrow," Espositio explained. "I have been playing well this year but with the crusty wind, you had to take bogeys when you hit it off line.

"I am proud to be at this event. We are 28,000 (members of The PGA of America) strong and I am the biggest fan of these Tour players; 'star-struck,' that is for sure."

Also posting strong starts were Tim Weinhart, a PGA Teaching Professional at St. Marlo Country Club in Duluth, Ga., who shot a 4-over 74 and Don Yrene, the PGA Head Professional at The Golf Club of Scottsdale, Ariz., who turned in a 75.

A few players were unable to complete their rounds due to a one hour, 25-minute weather delay in the late afternoon.

But regardless of their first-round scores, all 20 of the PGA Club Professionals agreed that the opportunity to play in a major championship was an experience to be enjoyed, cherished and remembered for a lifetime.

"This is my first major and I just wanted to enjoy it," stated Rick Leibovich, the PGA Head Professional at Tehama Golf Club in Carmel, Calif. "If I could hit it well, then I would be happy with how it turns out, and I was."

Leibovich carded a 78 in his opening round.

To see how all the PGA Club Professionals fared Thursday, click here.

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