Cut line on their minds

Sonny Skinner of Georgia and Rob Labritz of New York are among a handful of PGA Club Professionals who'll return to Whistling Straits on Saturday with a chance to qualify for the final two rounds.


Rob Labritz opened with a 73 and can make the cut with a solid finish to his second round. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

KOHLER, Wis. -- Half of the PGA Club Professionals in the field at the PGA Championship have made it to the weekend. Sort of.

Because of the two long fog delays at Whistling Straits that prevented the Thursday and Friday rounds from starting on time, 10 of the PGA Professionals didn't get to finish their second round. So they'll be playing on Saturday before learning whether they've played well enough to qualify for the final two rounds.

The top 70 players, plus ties, will earn the right to play the final 36 holes at Whistling Straits. Nine of the 10 PGA club professionals who completed 36 holes know they didn't score well enough and will head home. Of the 10 who remain on the course, only a few are still in contention to make the cut, which as of the end of play Friday night is projected to be 1 over par.

Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., and Rob Labritz of Pound Ridge, N.Y., will have to finish their rounds on Saturday morning. Both are 1 over, Skinner through three holes, Labritz through nine. Skinner, who didn't start until 5:55 p.m. on Friday, parred his first three holes. Labritz birdied two of his first three holes, but had a double bogey at No. 6.

Already in the clubhouse at 2-over 146 is Tim Thelen, the PGA assistant professional at The Falls Golf and Country Club in New Ulm, Texas. Thelen is attempting to make the cut for the first time in nine tries. This beats his previous best 36-hole effort by two shots.

"It's not easy to do and especially how much we get to play golf," Thelen said. "I play twice a week. I play Monday with the members and on Friday afternoons with the members. So to come here, it took a little preparation."

Thelen finished his first round on Friday morning in 71. He started his second round on the back nine and was 3 under for the tournament after making a birdie on the 13th hole. Then he made three straight bogeys to finish his first nine and finished with a 75.

"This is probably the best I've hit the ball," Thelen said. "I kept my spirits up and just kept plugging away and tried to make birdie on the way in and I just couldn't do it."

Troy Pare of Wauregan, Conn., is a longshot to make the cut at 3-over 147. Mitch Lowe of San Francisco had a 71 in the first round, but followed that with a 77 and won't make the cut at 148.

"It was good. It was fun. A little disappointed," Lowe said. "I learned a lot. It's awesome watching how these guys prepare and how they manage their games around the golf course, even when they are not playing very good. Playing in front of the crowd ... it's great."

Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., winner of the 2010 PGA Professional National Championship, failed to make the cut. The men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois had rounds of 78 and 74 and blamed poor putting.

"I gave away probably six shots on the greens today," he said. "My ball-striking stats, they weren't so bad, but I didn't have the arsenal to play this place."