Leonard Siter, Frank Esposito lead crowded PGA Four-Ball Stableford Team Championship
By Craig Dolch
PORT ST. LUCIE – Monday was moving day at the PGA Four-Ball Stableford Team Championship at PGA Golf Club.
Thanks to an eagle by Frank Esposito at the par-5 17th, Esposito and Leonard Siter scored 14 points to move into the lead entering Tuesday’s final round. Esposito and Siter, a pair of PGA Professionals from New Jersey, have 32 points.
The teams of Jeff Sorenson-Rod Perry and Mark Brown-Joshua Rackley moved into contention with 16 and 15 points, respectively, leaving them one behind the leaders.
The biggest move on the leaderboard was made by the team of Ben Polland-Alex Beach, who scored 21 points to improve 17 spots to fourth place at 30.
With 11 teams within eight points, players know they have to keep moving if they want to claim the $8,000 first prize in the PGA Winter Championships event.
“We both hit a lot of good shots,” Siter said. “Today we made some nice putts, especially that eagle Frank had on 17.”
“You have to have both in the hole putting for birdie,” Esposito said. “That’s the key.”
Brown and Rackley are the only team among the leaders not to have a bogey in the first 36 holes. They combined for eight birdies Monday.
“We both played pretty steady today again,” Brown said. “We left a couple out there. We just need some putts to go in and we’ll be fine.”
Beach and Polland started the day outside the top 20 but made their move with eight birdies and an eagle – a 62 if this was stroke play.
“We played out way back in it,” Polland said. “We’re hoping we can try and break 50 (points).”
Sorenson and Perry were PGA Cup teammates in 2013. Sorenson had four birdies on the first five holes Monday, which is usually the recipe for success in this format that rewards aggressive play.
“Making birdies early is important for us because we’re both momentum players,” Perry said. “The first birdie for us is always the hardest one. If we can get one early and get the momentum going, I think we can play really well.”
The defending champions, Rich Berberian and Rob Corcoran, made an even bigger move. They rallied from a 1-point showing in the first round to score 23 points, thanks to Berberian’s 29 on the front nine that included two eagles and three birdies. Berberian holed out with an 8-iron from 125 yards into a stiff wind on the par-4 eighth at the Dye Course, helping them improve by 55 spots to T9
“I knew we had to make a bunch of birdies to get back in it,” Berberian said. “I’m fortunate to have a very consistent partner. You don’t shoot a 29 without one. I know it looks like most of our scores came from me, but it really was a team effort.”
The 18-hole leaders, Rick Schuller and Steve Schneiter, dropped into fifth place with 27 after scoring 4 points.
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.