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Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brooks Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J., sits in seventh place overall heading into the weekend. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Eleven PGA Club Professionals make it to weekend

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- There were 38 compelling stories behind each PGA Club Professional in the field as play began in this week's 69th Senior PGA Championship. And for a fortunate few, there are still a couple of chapters to go.

Eleven PGA Club Professionals made the cut, besting the difficult Oak Hill Country Club and the cold, windy conditions that caused many of the top touring professionals to catch the early flights out of Rochester.

PGA Professionals
Who Made the Cut
Perry Arthur PGA Teaching Professional, Sherrill Park Golf Course
Mike Barge PGA Director of Instruction, Hazeltine National Golf Club
Bill Britton PGA Director of Instruction, Twin Brooks Golf Center
Freddy Gibson PGA Life Member
Darrell Kestner PGA Head Professional, Deepdale Golf Club
Bill Loeffler PGA Professional, owner/operator, Highlands Ranch Golf Club
David Lundstrom PGA Professional
Gary Robison PGA Director of Golf, Brookside C.C.
Scott Spence PGA Director of Instruction, Carnegie Abbey Club
Robert Thompson PGA Teaching Professional, Whispering Pines
Jim Woodward PGA Teaching Professional, Oak Tree Golf Club

"I feel great," said Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brooks Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J. and the low PGA Club Professional in the field after two rounds. "I definitely had my screw-ups, but I think everyone is going to be able to say that to some extent. But overall, being where I am and the way I'm playing, I feel really good."

Britton is in seventh place after posting rounds of 70-74 to sit at 4-over-par 144.

"I get up pretty early morning to find time to hit balls," said Britton about the sacrifices that a PGA Club Professional has to make to compete at such an elite level. "Sometimes I get to hit them and sometimes you don't. You know, when you run your own business, there's always something that needs to be done. But like anything else, you get out of something what you put into it, and without that hard work, I wouldn't have the success that I'm having this week."

Other players tried to not set their expectations too high and focus on a more immediate task at hand.

"I don't look at, or think about, the cut as I'm playing. Really, I try not to think about it," said Gary Robison, the PGA Director of Golf at Brookside Country Club in Canton, Ohio. "You play one shot at a time, you post a score and then it is what it is. That's all you can do."

All Robison could do was good enough as he shot 75-73 to comfortably make the weekend. He has now made the cut in four consecutive Senior PGA Championships.

Darrell Kestner, the PGA Head Professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhassett, N.Y., shot an even-par 70 in the second round and sits in a tie for 20th at 6 over par.

"I am a club pro and I am (just) enjoying being here," Kestner said when asked what he wanted to accomplish for the week. "I always play well when I'm having fun."

Mike Barge, the PGA Director of Instruction at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., was one of five PGA Club Professionals who learned their fate only after a flurry of late bogeys by the field moved the cut number to 12 over par.

"It means a lot," Barge remarked. "It is a real sense of accomplishment. I think I probably play fewer rounds of golf than anyone in the field, so it's a real good feeling to be around on the weekend -- especially when you see the scores that a lot of the guys who play competition golf all the time shot, it really puts it into perspective. This is a real hard golf course."

The 11 PGA Club Professionals to make the cut is the most to make the weekend since 2002, when 13 club professionals made it to the weekend at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

And though there was some definite disappointment among the PGA Club Professionals who did not make the cut, the experience was still an overwhelmingly satisfying one. A point they each affirmed after their round Friday.

"This has been a really good experience," said Bob Ralston, a PGA Life Member from Little Rock, Ark. "I was really looking forward to coming up here and seeing this golf course, with all the history and nostalgia that lives here, and it was everything that I expected.

"The course and the weather made things maybe a little tougher than I expected, but it was still a great time," added Ralston, who shot 81-82. "I wish I would have played a little better, I'm not strong enough anymore to get the ball out of rough like this, but it was a real pleasure to be here."

There will be a special presentation for the low PGA Club Professional during the awards ceremony following the conclusion of play at the end of the championship.

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