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Despite a disappointing opening round Thursday, PGA Professional John Godwin said the
Despite a disappointing opening round Thursday, PGA Professional John Godwin said the "atmosphere and the people are great." (Photo: The PGA of America)

PGA Professionals' participation 'a privilege, honor'

They number 38, but collectively have one goal -- to represent the PGA of America with honor while performing to the best of their abilities. Such is the charge of the PGA Professionals in the field at the Senior PGA Championship.

John Kim, Coordinating Producer

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- A typical week, if there is such a thing, for many of the 28,000 PGA Professionals around the country could include manning the pro shop, giving some lessons, folding some shirts, and scoring a tournament. But how about teeing it up next to Hale Irwin or Nick Price at a major championship venue?

For 38 PGA Professionals, that is their reality this week. Removed from the lesson tees and pro shops from around the country, they have descended onto the Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort to compete in the 68th Senior PGA Championship. But they are not here simply as ambassadors of the PGA of America or cursory participants. Each of them is here to compete.

"Make no mistake, we're here to beat somebody," said PGA Professional David Lundstrom, of Victoria, Texas. "This isn't about just being here. Many of the guys (PGA  Professionals) think they can at least make the cut, and I'm sure some expect to do even better than that. This is a competition, it's not a vacation."

But despite the pressure of trying to win a major championship, dealing with difficult wind conditions, and representing their fellow members and their association well, they are definitely taking a moment to enjoy the atmosphere.

"Of course, this is really special," said Mike San Filippo, a PGA Life Member and a special invitation participant here. "This is such a privilege and an honor to participate in one of these events, and I really appreciate it so much."

The sentiment was echoed by PGA Professional Jeff Coston, who shot the low score of the day (even-par 72) among the 38 club professionals.

"I don't really have any expectations for the week, not as far as what place I come in or anything like that," said Coston, who is writing a daily blog for PGA.com. "I just want to have fun and play golf like I know how to my full potential."

Even the PGA Professionals whose rounds did not go as well as hoped expressed a measure of satisfaction and excitement in being here.

"The atmosphere and the people are great," said PGA Professional John Godwin of Pine Mountain, Ga., whose 82 included a quintuple-bogey 8 on the difficult par-3 17th. "The most difficult thing is the golf course and the conditions here. It's the equivalent of playing with a gun to your head, just really difficult out there.

"In order to play under these conditions, you have to have total control of your game. Total control. We (club professionals) don't play every week and so it's a lot tougher for us to consistently shape the shots that you need in order to play in these winds."

Godwin rued the 17th hole, but given that the winds were whipping across the Ocean Course with gusts of up to 31 mph, anything was possible out there.

"That one hole might ruin the tournament for me," he said. "But I tell you, I've never played in winds like this. This is just amazing. You take a 10-handicap player and put him out there, there's no way he breaks 100."

Coston didn't reflect too much on his even-par round as far as how it positioned him on the leaderboard. He laughed when told he was a contender for the title.

"I try not to have any expectations," he explained. "I read that in Golf For Women. It was a really good article."

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