PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – Lisa Grimes extended her lead in the Women’s Stroke Play Championship, while Scott Berliner made a leap to gain control of the Stroke Play Championship. Both events are part of the PGA Winter Championships held at PGA Golf Club.
This was a fun Monday for Grimes, the Director of Golf at Alexandria (Minnesota) Golf Club. After opening the Women’s Stroke Play Championship with a 67 on Super Bowl Sunday, Grimes switched over to the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course and carded a two-under 70, the low round in the field for a second straight day.
Grimes’ two-day total of 137 is good enough for a 6-shot lead.
Grimes’ big strike came on the Wanamaker’s par-5 16th, which she eagled after making a 20-foot putt. It jumped her lead from four to six strokes.
Monday will best be remembered by Grimes not for how she played, or where she played, but for who she played with.
Grimes was paired with Suzy Whaley of Cromwell, Connecticut, the Vice President of the PGA of America.
“I’ve known Suzy for a while, but before today, we’d never played together. It was fun. I was excited to play. And being in a twosome together, we got to know each other even better and had a good time.
“After we finished on 18, I told Suzy that she’s long been one of my idols having played in that professional men’s event (2003 Greater Hartford Open). I’ve played in men’s events before. She played in a PGA Tour event and I admire her for doing that.”
Whaley, who recorded a one-under 71 Monday and is alone in second place at 143, admires Grimes’ caliber of play she experienced firsthand.
“Lisa’s fun and playing great. She has all the shots needed for both these golf courses (at PGA Golf Club),” said Whaley, whose 71 Monday was only the Championship’s third sub-par round. “I know I’ll need to play my heart out tomorrow to get back in it.”
Jessica Carafiello of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, stands alone in third place at 145. Tuesday’s final round will return to the Ryder Course.
The eagle and two closing pars put Grimes in a sturdy position and just 18 holes shy of adding another impressive maker to her stellar playing resume.
“I’m driving and putting well, and hitting some decent iron shots along the way,” said Grimes, whose scorecard also included three birdies (holes Nos. 1, 10, 13) and a trio of bogeys. “I’m just having fun and scoring pretty well. By tomorrow, I’ll have played four days in a row. That’s never a bad thing.”
The winner of the 2018 Women’s Stroke Play Championship gains an exemption into this summer’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which will be contested June 28 – July 1 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Illinois.
Scott Berliner’s second round of the Stroke Play Championship began with a pair of unfortunate lies on the Ryder Course.
“I hit a good tee shot down the middle [of hole 2], but it rolled into a half grown-in divot,” said Berliner, a 43-year-old from Queensbury, New York. “I hit a really good shot out of the divot, but came up about a foot short and plugged into the lip of the bunker. Hit a good bunker shot to ten feet and just missed the putt. Walking off, I said to myself, ‘I made a bogey, but I didn’t hit a bad shot.’ Just a couple bad breaks.”
Berliner, a PGA Assistant Professional at Hiland Park Country Club in Queensbury, would go on to play flawless golf over his final 16 holes, tallying six birdies and finishing with a 5-under-par 67 (136). He is positioned on top of the leader board by three strokes over Andrew Stephens heading into Tuesday’s final round.
“I’m trying to be very patient,” said Berliner. “I didn’t have any expectations because I haven’t been playing very good over the winter. I have a tendency to get a little bit quick in my process, so I slowed everything down. I wasn’t rushing anything. I made sure I took my time. I envisioned the shot, figured out what yardage, what club, where I want to hit it on the green.
“I give myself an A for patience and an A+ for attitude after that bogey.”
In second place is first-round leader, Stephens, who is making his tournament debut as a PGA member. He was elected into the PGA of America on January 4 and is the PGA Director of Instruction at The Stephens Golf Academy in Burlington, Kentucky.
After starting with 13 consecutive pars, Stephens finally broke through with a birdie on the 5th hole (his 14th). He would birdie another, but bogeys on his 16th and 18th holes ultimately led to an even-par 72 (139).
The reigning Senior PGA Professional Champion, Frank Esposito Jr. (Old Bridge, New Jersey; 72-140); the 2017 PGA Tournament Series money winner, Danny Balin (Rockville, Maryland; 70-140); and Chad Proehl (Urbandale, Iowa; 69-140) are tied for third place.
41 players advanced through the cut of the top 38 and ties. They’re all chasing Berliner.
“When I’ve been in this position, I try to shoot a number or I play tentative,” said Berliner. “If I just go out tomorrow and focus on my game, then that’s fine. I know it’s a cliché, one shot at a time, but it really is true. It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my career and that’s getting ahead of myself. I look forward instead of the shot at hand.
“I’m going to work on that tomorrow. I’m putting myself in good position.”
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.