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San Filippo
Mike San Filippo and his caddie look for the putting line Friday at Laurel Valley. (Photo: Montana Pritchard, PGA.com)

San Filippo Leads 9 PGA Club Professionals into Weekend

Mike San Filippo, of Hobe Sound, Fla., shot 1-under 71 Friday to easily make the cut, which fell at 6-over 150, at the 66th Senior PGA Championship. In all, nine PGA Club Professionals earned the right to play on the weekend at Laurel Valley.

By Marino Parascenzo, Special to PGA.com

LIGONIER, Pa. -- One man did it with a secret, another with patience to join nine club professionals out of the 42 in the field in making the cut in the 66th Senior PGA Championship.

Mike San Filippo, from Hobe Sound, Fla., led the club professional contingent with a 1-under-par 71 for a 1-over 145 total, making the cut by five shots and sitting seven shots behind tournament leader Jerry Pate (70-68--138). San Filippo had three birdies and two bogeys. He birdied No. 3, then went back to even par with a bogey at No. 7. He shook off a bogey at the par-5 11th and birdied the 15th and 17th, then parred the dangerous par-5 18th for the 71.

Elsewhere, life was a bit more dramatic among the club pros.

Tom Herzan, a teaching professional at Findlay (Ohio) Country Club, was the man with the secret, shooting a 1-under-par 71 Friday to make halfway cut easily.

Bob Ford, the head professional at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh, turned in an amazing 10 straight pars from the start and was among the club professional elite until he stumbled to two closing bogeys and shot 74-148.

Herzan, a teaching professional, found a secret he can never use on the practice tee. It had to do with the winds that whipped Laurel Valley. And the secret was: "You make your best guess," he said, "and then you cross your fingers."

The system worked. Herzan, playing in his first Senior PGA Championship, shot a 1-under 71 in the blustery winds for a 2-over 146. But it wasn't a garden-variety 71. He was trying to shoot his foot off on his front nine, bogeying his last two holes, the 17th and the 18th, for an outward 38.

"I told my caddie we need a good back nine," Herzan said, and he proceeded to get it for both of them, a one-bogey 33.

He got those two bogeys back immediately, holing an 18-foot putt at No. 1 (his 10th) and sticking a 9-iron to 6 inches at No. 2. He lipped out a 20-footer at No. 3, then bogeyed the fourth when he blew a 4-footer.

Oddly enough, he considered a par at the par-3 fifth his turning point.

"I hit it in the bunker and had no shot," Herzan said. But somehow he got the ball out to 5 feet and saved par. He wiped his brow and birdied the next two, holing an 18-footer and a 20-footer. And then he saved it all on his final hole, No. 9, when he rapped a 50-foot putt 6 feet long, then made it coming back to save par. It was his 27th putt of the day.

All this after having spent five days in bed with the flu just before coming to Laurel Valley.

Oakmont's Ford ran off those 10 straight pars in a classic display of patience. "Conservative," he said. He made his first bogey on his 11th hole, the par-4 No. 2.

"I thought I had 113 yards to the pin," Ford said. "And I flew the green, back into the junk. I pretty soon found out I had only 102 yards."

He bogeyed his last two holes, two-putting from 6 feet at each.

Darrell Kestner, the head professional at Deepdale Golf Club at Manhasset, N.Y. , who missed the cut in his first Senior PGA last year, made it this time with a 74-149.

He did it with a flair and some good humor. At the par-4 15th, he fired his tee shot into a messy lie in the rough and barely escaped, ending up on the green but about 100 feet from the pin. Then he rolled in the putt for a birdie.

"That was nice," Kestner said. "Especially coming after the second day misclubbing myself at the 14th and making bogey both times."

And then after his remarkable birdie at the 15th, he bogeyed the 16th. He shook his head and smiled.

"Miss a little, make a big," he said.

A major championship is a bad time to reach for your up-and-down game and find that it's not there. And that was the rub for Jim White, the 2004 Callaway Golf PGA Senior Club Professional Champion. His 82-79 -- 161 was swept away by the halfway cut.

"I was just terrible," said White, director of operations at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club and owner of the North Forty Golf Course, both in Lincoln, Neb. "I drove the ball well enough [he averaged nearly 290 yards on the measured drives], but when you miss the greens, it's a different game."

The fatal statistic for his two rounds: He hit five greens in the first round, and nine in the second, a mere 38.9 percent.

Without a doubt, the most disappointed club professional to pack his bags and head home on Friday had to be Perry Arthur, the director of golf at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas. His 2-under 70 on Thursday left him tied for third, just four shots out of the lead.

But Friday turned into a nightmare quickly for the 50-year-old playing in his first Senior PGA. Arthur bogeyed his first four holes, added a double-bogey at No. 7 then carded four more bogeys en route to a crippling 81 that ended his dream.

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