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Former PGA Tour player Bill Britton shot 77 on Friday to sneak into the weekend at the Senior PGA Championship on the cut number, 8 over par. (Photo: The PGA of America)
Former PGA Tour player Bill Britton shot 77 on Friday to sneak into the weekend at the Senior PGA Championship on the cut number, 8 over par. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Nine PGA Professionals survive Ocean Course, make cut

Led by Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash., and Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass., at 3 over par, nine PGA Professionals survived a brutal Ocean Course over two days to make the cut at the 68th Senior PGA Championship.

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- As much as the 38 PGA Club Professionals competing in this week's 68th Senior PGA Championship felt honored to take part, not one of them was content to offer a simple "I'm just happy to be here." First and foremost, these players are competitors and testing their skills against the best in the world, under some of the toughest conditions, was the greatest motivating force.

Thursday's opening round was a blustery day during which the entire field posted an average score over five shots above par (77.28). It's not surprising that the club professionals found scoring conditions less than optimal. But still, nearly half of them managed to break 80 and almost all of them still considered themselves capable of making the cut.

In the end, nine PGA Professionals made it to the weekend: Jeff Coston of Blaine, Wash.; Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass.; Mike San Filippo of Hobe Sound, Fla.; Ron Stelten of Palm Desert, Calif.; Bill Britton of Rumson, N.J.; Bobby Heins of White Plains, N.Y.; Lindy Miller of Fort Worth, Tex.; Gary Robison of Canton, Ohio; and Bill Schumaker of Columbia City, Ind.

Robison, the PGA Director of Golf at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, battled back from an opening-round 78 to shoot a more-than-respectable 2-over par 74 in the second round Friday to make the cut.

"My expectations are to do better than just make the cut," explained Robison. "I've made the cut the last two years."

Though Robison is no stranger to major championship pressure, that doesn't mean he doesn't believe the club professionals are not at some disadvantage.

"The more you play in these," he says, "the more comfortable you get with it, but I'm not sure that any of us club pros ever get real, real comfortable to play like we should, or think we should -- play like we do back home. But it's always a neat feeling to be here, though."

Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brooks Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J., agreed that it was difficult to stay in top competitive condition while having club responsibilities.

"I tried not to have too many expectations," he said. "This is my first Senior PGA Championship and I've had very little opportunity to play golf over the winter and spring."

Britton, who played on the PGA TOUR for 15 years, wasn't making excuses.

"I hit the ball pretty well, but just didn't score as well as I would have liked," he said. "I definitely left a few shots out there, and those might cost me."

It ultimately did not cost Britton, who will be around to compete on the weekend.

"Playing on the weekend is a big thing," said Jeff Coston, who at 3 over par was tied for the low score among PGA Professionals. "It's a long way to come from Seattle to not play on the weekend. So that's huge. But I try not to make it huge. I don't let things like that enter my thoughts. It's one shot at a time."

Coston, who won the 2006 Senior PGA Professional Championship and is writing a daily blog for PGA.com, spent most of the day near the top of the leaderboard before a few stumbles down the stretch dropped him back.

There will be a special presentation at the conclusion of play on Sunday for the low PGA Professional in the field.

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