PGA Club Professional Grant Sturgeon, from Oakmont Country Club, shot an impressive 71 in the second round. (Photo: Edward M. Pio Roda, PGA.com)
PGA Club Professionals continue strong showing
Two PGA Club Professionals will advance to the weekend while the others will take home fond memories of their time at the 91st PGA Championship.
John Kim, Coordinating Producer, PGA.com
CHASKA, Minn. - Grant Sturgeon understands high expectations. As an Assistant Professional at Oakmont (Pa) Country Club under the esteemed PGA Head Professional Bob Ford, Sturgeon realizes that his game and his presence represent a very high standard of excellence. At Hazeltine National Golf Club at this week's PGA Championship, he has met and exceeded all of those expectations.
"I felt if I played up to my potential and my ability that making the cut was a reasonable goal. So I tried to, as much as I thought that, stay away from thinking that way as much as possible, because if that is all that I was worried about, I had no chance of doing it."
Sturgeon's plan to not thing about the cut has worked out quite well as he fired a one-under par 71 in tough conditions on Friday and and enters the weekend even par overall and tied for 18th.
"I've got one of my best friends in the world caddying for me this week, Brett Jones. We played college golf together," he noted. "And it's a huge asset to have him out there with me. I mean, we talk about a golf shot for about 15 seconds before I hit it and that's it. I stay relaxed and had an absolute blast so far."
Sturgeon also noted his boss Bob Ford, a highly accomplished player in his own right, gave him some sage advice prior to his participation this week.
"I called him and asked him for some advice," Sturgeon shared. "He said, 'Swing hard and hope you hit it.'"
Sturgeon joins Greg Bisconti, the PGA Assistant Professional at The St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., as the only two PGA Club Professionals who made the cut at this year's championship.
Even amid the disappointment of not making the cut, many of the PGA Club Professionals will take home fond memories of their time with the world's top players.
"You know, this past week has been fantastic," said Sam Arnold, the PGA Head Professional at The Vineyard Golf Course in Cincinnati, Ohio. "I got to play a few holes with Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, and the neat thing about that was Butch Harmon in the group, and Butch was great. You know, this morning, he remembered who I was and he said hi and just the little things that make these players the best in the world, you might be able to take something back to your course and help out other players."
Ryan Benzel, the PGA Teaching Professional at Battle Creek Golf Course in Tulalip, Wash., was able to smile even after a couple of rounds below his standards.
"Hazeltine's tough," he laughed when asked what he learned from his week. "It played a lot harder in the tournament than I expected it to after the couple practice rounds. It's a good golf course. It's hard."
Many of the players echoed the sentiment that this was a learning experience as well as an enjoyable one.
"In my teaching, because that's what I do, I gained tons of experience from this," said Mitch Lowe, the PGA Director of Golf at Del Rio Country Club in Modesto, Calif. "You know, I had to plan out shots and what to work on and what's really important. You know, it's not really the golf swing. You see all kind of different golf swings that are effective. Just trying to make solid contact and being strategic around the golf course. So in that is aspect, I learned a tremendous amount. Personally for my own game, I need to drive the ball much better, and these guys are really, really good with their long clubs, long irons. They are good around the green but shots coming into the greens are fantastic."
Keith Dicciani, an Assistant Professional from Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, N.Y., and who is engaged to the daughter of his boss and fellow PGA Championship competitor Craig Thomas, summed up his week with a laugh. "I don't think I finished dead last so, that's always good."
Dicciani finished the championship at eight-over par, one shot behind his boss and future father-in-law. So he may be the big winner after all.