Jason Witczak establishes a new dual-sport distinction this week. Plus, defending champ David Hutsell has gotten around, and we take a quick look in the record book.
By The PGA of America
SEASIDE, Calif. -- Jason Witczak of Phoenix, Ariz., is believed to be the first former professional football place-kicker to compete in a PGA Professional National Championship.
Witczak, 41, is a PGA assistant professional at Adobe Dam Family Golf Center in Glendale, Ariz., and competed for the Tennessee Titans (2001), the Rhein Fire (NFL Europe, 2002), Buffalo Bills (2003), Barcelona Dragons (NFL Europe, 2003), Arizona Rattlers (Arena Football, 2004, '08, '10, '11) and Nashville Kats (Arena Football League, 2006, '07).
Witczak played football and golf at Marshall University In 2004, Witczak qualified for the REMAX World Long Drive Championship in 2006, '07, '09 and '10, finishing 13th overall in 2007 while hitting the third longest drive at 404 yards.
A CHAMPION’S JOURNEY: Defending Champion David Hutsell of Baltimore has added more air miles over the past six months, taking advantage of PGA Tour exemptions that he earned by winning last year's PGA Professional National Championship. Hutsell, 41, the PGA director of instruction at Elkridge Club in Baltimore, competed in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February at Riviera Maya, Mexico; the Puerto Rico Open in March; and was the second reigning National Champion to compete in the Japan PGA Championship in May.
RECORD BREAKERS: Here are a few records held by participants competing in this year's Championship:
--In 1980, John Traub of Rochester Hills, Mich., set the record for largest final-round rebound. His eight-stroke comeback to win the Championship was highlighted by a front-nine 34 and 3-under-par 69 total. It gave him a two-stroke win over Jim Albus. Third-round leader Gene Borek shot a final-round 81, and finished tied for third.
--In 1996, Darrell Kestner of Glen Cove, N.Y., set the 72-hole scoring record at 271. He accomplished the feat at PGA West in La Quina, Calif., winning the Championship by a stroke over Dan Bateman.
--In 2001, Wayne DeFrancesco of Columbia, Md., set a scoring record by becoming the only player in the history of the National Championship to hold the lead alone all four days. His final-round even-par 72 at Crosswater Club in Sunriver, Ore., was good for a three-stroke victory at 10-under-par 278.
--In 2011, Danny Balin of Rockville, Md., established the all-time final-round scoring mark, a 63, at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club. He also broke the club's East Course record, taking only 24 putts. His sparkling final round, which vaulted him into fourth place, erased the previous final-round National Championship record of 65 previously, held by Jeff Roth in 1987. His final round also broke the previous course record of 64 shared by Bob Burns of Knoxville, Tenn. (1998) and PGA Professional Terry Hertzog of Lititz, Pa. (2001).