SEASIDE, Calif. -- A 78.
That's what Marty Jertson, a PING engineer from the Southwest Section out of Arizona, shot in the first round of the 2012 PGA Professional Championship right here at Bayonet/Black Horse.
It wasn't the start Jertson was looking for, especially after a T5 in his PPC debut a year earlier at Hershey Country Club that gave him his first PGA Championship start two months later at Atlanta Athletic Club.
"I wasn't playing so good coming into that 2012 Professional Championship," the 37-year-old Jertson said. "And that carried over into that first round at Bayonet. I didn't drive it good and I was just in trouble all day long. That's the kind of course that can eat you up if you're not hitting good. It's so challenging."
The start was disappointing, but Jertson isn't the type of person to dwell on the negative.
Instead, immediately after the round, he made a beeline for the range.
And that's where he found something.
"In that second round, I shot the low round of the day -- a 68 -- at Black Horse," he said. "It was really windy. I was out in the afternoon. I finished good. I eagled the drivable par 4 and birdied my last hole for low round of the day and a big come back. Then I played really good the last two rounds. I think I shot 69 the last day and moved way up the board and ended up finishing tied for seventh and that helped me qualify for two PGA Championships in a row. It was a lot of fun to close out so strong here."
Since then, it's been lean times for Jertson in the PPC. He tied for 49th in 2013, finished T73 in 2014, missed the cut in 2015, didn't play in 2016 and was 67th a year ago.
But this week, back at Bayonet/Black Horse where he ended on such a high note after that rough start, Jertson is understandably optimistic.
"I want to continue on where I left off here six years ago," he said Saturday, on the eve of the 2018 PPC. "I want to feel like I'm keeping the momentum from that event. My game is very different now. I'm a much better driver of the ball than I was then. I feel like I'd have a much better chance in a PGA Championship now than I did 5-6 years ago."
To get to Bellerive in St. Louis this August for the 100th PGA Championship, Jertson will have to finish in the top 20 of this 312-player field.
He admits that after cruising to the PGA Championship in his first two PPCs, the task may have seemed much easier than it actually is.
"I had the honeymoon of Hershey -- my first one -- I played great and was right there the whole way, I was in the top 10 the whole week," he said. "Not to say it seemed easy, because it wasn't. But, it's been a reality check since then. I had a great first couple of years and then haven't been able to quite get over that hump and get all the momentum going for all four rounds. That's what I'm looking to do this year and I'll lean on my experience here. I need to get off to a good start. You don't need to do anything crazy the first couple of days, but I need a good start and I need to drive it good on these courses. And then be patient. Even though there's 312 players and they're all great players and a strong field, you just have to be patient and trust in your own game."
That's what Jertson will hope to do when the bell rings at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, when he begins his first round at Bayonet.
"It would be sweet to get to Bellerive," he said. "My career goal -- I'm 37 now. My career goal before I was 30 was to play in one PGA Tour event. Now I've been fortunate to play in quite a few (he's qualified for the PGA Tour's Shriner's Hospital for Children Open four times). I've adjusted things. My goal now is to make a cut in a major. To play the weekend in a major, I think that would be just an awesome experience and this is the first step to get there."
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