Brown-Dobyns, Esposito-Jones tied for lead at Senior-Junior Team Championship

By Craig Dolch
Published on
Brown-Dobyns, Esposito-Jones tied for lead at Senior-Junior Team Championship

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2017) -- Mark Brown and Matt Dobyns have a simple strategy if they want to win the PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship at PGA Golf Club.

“Make a lot of birdies,” Brown said.

And then make some more.

“We want to give ourselves the greatest likelihood of a birdie, even if it brings in the possibility of a bogey,” Dobyns said. “We wouldn’t play like that if we were out there on our own, but that’s what you have to do.”

Their aggressive approach worked Wednesday as they shot a 29 on the back nine of the Ryder Course – Brown made six of the seven birdies -- for a 9-under 63. The strong finish enabled the Glen Head, N.Y. residents to share the lead with Frank Esposito of Old Bridge, N.J., and Brett Jones of Basking Ridge, N.J., at 22-under 194 entering Thursday’s final round on the Wanamaker Course.

RELATED: Senior-Junior Team Championship leaderboard

“That’s where we like to be,” said Dobyns, the 2015 PGA Professional of the Year.

Esposito, who recently missed qualifying for the PGA Tour Champions by a shot, was upbeat after he and Jones shot 64 on the more difficult Dye Course. It was the second-lowest round of the week on the Dye.

“We’re going to have to really go low,” Esposito said. “We messed up when we shot 69 on the Wanamaker (in the first round), but we’ve played well the last two days.”

Defending champions Lon Nielsen of Port St. Lucie and Joshua Rackley of Glen Head, N.Y., gave themselves a chance to repeat with a 10-under 62 on the Wanamaker Course to move to 21-under 195.

Also at 195 are 2013 champions Rick Schuller of Chester, Va., and four-time PGA Professional Player of the Year Bob Sowards (63) of Dublin, Ohio; Craig Stevens of Dallas, Ga., and Brett Melton of Washington, Ind., (61); and Craig Thomas of White Plains, N.Y., and Brice Busse (63) of Yonkers, N.Y.

Schuller said he and Sowards could be leading the tournament if they had a better day on the greens.

“We literally missed six putts inside of 8 feet,” Schuller said. “We put too much pressure on ourselves on the greens because we’re trying to be perfect. It’s imperative we have two birdie putts on each hole because that takes the pressure off the other guy.”

The 72-hole, best-ball event is part of the PGA Winter Championships. The 54-hole cut was at 13-under 203.

The winning team splits $10,000.

The PGA Winter Championships are presented by and PrimeSport.