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Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brooks Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J., is in contention heading into the final round. (Photo: The PGA of America)

PGA Club Professionals focusing on finishing strong

By John Kim, Coordinating Producer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For the 11 PGA Club Professionals still playing in the 69th Senior PGA Championship, the initial satisfaction of making the cut had to subside and the focus back to the task at hand -- competing at the extremely challenging Oak Hill Country Club alongside the elite senior players in the world.

One PGA Club Professional in the field is finding himself in rarified air. Bill Britton, the PGA Director of Instruction at Twin Brooks Golf Center in Tinton Falls, N.J., shot a 2-over par 72 on Saturday,and at 6 over for the tournament sits tied for fourth place heading into the final round.

Britton, who played 15 years on the PGA Tour, made a bogey on the first two holes of the day and then reeled off 16 straight pars.

"I played great," said Britton, "I feel like I climbed into somebody else's body."

Britton has expressed a tremendous gratitude at his reception at Oak Hill. After an opening-round 70 had him one shot off the lead, several fellow PGA Club Professionals made a point to come by and offer congratulations and encouragement for the remainder of the week. Friends from his playing days on the Tour, including Bruce Fleisher and Joey Sindelar, have also been by to visit.

"It's nice to be remembered, the reception here by everyone has been fantastic. It's been fun so far. Seeing some old friends, making some new ones. And when you are on the first tee and you see the officials from The PGA of America, you know that you're carrying the banner for the association, that's pretty special."

And as for his state of mind going into the final round, while playing in the second-to-last group and a mere four shots off the lead, Britton didn't seem too rattled.

"I'm not going to think about a number or my position on the leaderboard," said Britton, "just hit every shot the best I can."

Britton also shrugged off the notion of any routine or ritual that he could replicate to produce one more solid round of golf, though he did offer one explanation for his stellar play this week.

"Sleep," he answered. "I don't usually get a lot of sleep, but this has been a long week. I've done a lot of practice and I'm pretty tired. I think I'm getting more sleep this week."

Britton was not the only PGA Club Professional who had a solid day. Jim Woodward, the PGA Teaching Professional at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmund, Okla., shot a 3-over 75 and is tied for 21st.

Gary Robison, the PGA Director of Golf at Brookside C.C. in Canton, Ohio, bluntly summed up his third round.

"I just didn't hit many good irons and then I didn't putt very well and didn't chip it very well," he stated. "But that's why I shoot what I shoot."

Robison shot a 79 on Saturday and sits in a tie for 53rd place.

Robert Thompson, the PGA Teaching Professional at Whispering Pines in Trinity, Texas, has maintained an odd consistency over his first three rounds.

"I think I'm 14 over on the front, and 2 over on the back for the championship," Thompson stated following a 77 in his third round. "So I need to do a little better job on the front side."

David Lundstrom, a former touring pro and current PGA Professional, shared his insight into the biggest obstacle for the PGA Club Professionals in the field.

"The main thing that hurts a lot of club pros is they play pretty good, but they don't play in this kind of rough," he explained. "And when you get in there you just slash at it, you try to get it out."

"The rough is brutal, man," said Perry Arthur, the The PGA Teaching Professional at Sherrill Park Golf Course in Richardson, Texas. "You get in there, you'll be there all day."

Bill Loeffler, PGA Professional and the owner and operator of Highlands Ranch Golf Club in Castle Rock, Colo., expressed disappointment in his play after battling the extreme test that is Oak Hill.

"It's the worst round of golf I've ever played in my life," Loeffler lamented after shooting an 85 in the third round.

Scott Spence, the PGA Director of Instruction at Carnegie Abbley Club in Portsmouth, R.I, shot an 82 in the morning, but kept a positive perspective on his experience as he prepared for his final round on Sunday.

"I'm going to continue to smile and talk to the crowd and take it all in," he stated. "So I'm going to enjoy it."

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