PORT ST. LUCIE – A year ago, it took 32 under to win the PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship.
After 54 holes this week, with the wind blowing and the greens drying out, they’re only halfway there – Mitch Lowe and Jason Schmuhl are leading at 16-under 200 after a 67 Tuesday on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club.
It should still be a shootout in Wednesday’s final round with eight teams within five shots. But birdies and eagles haven’t been as prevalent in the PGA Winter Championships team event.
“We got off to a slow start … a very slow start, actually,” said Lowe, referring to their team being even after six holes. “We never strung anything together. But we’re glad to be leading. I would feel comfortable getting to 22- or 23-under.”
Gary Robison of Canton, Ohio and Dennis Miller of Youngstown, Ohio were at 16-under, but bogeyed the final hole to slip one behind after a 66. They are tied for second with Darrell Kestner and Sean Quinlivan of Huntington, N.Y.
Miller eagled the first hole and birdied the second, and Robison birdied the third. But they played 2-under the rest of the way.
“My partner got off to a great start, but we made two bogeys and didn’t birdie the first par-5 on the back nine,” said Robison.
Kestner and Quinlivan were 1-under through 10 holes, but made four birdies in the next five holes for a 66.
“We just didn’t get anything out of the front side, but we had a good back nine,” Quinlivan said. “We managed to keep ourselves in with a shout.”
Rick Schuller of Chester, Va., and Steven Delmar of Rockville, Md., are alone in fourth place, two back, after a 69. Schuller won this event paired with Bob Sowards in 2013, but teamed with Delmar after his original partner couldn’t play in the event.
“We’re fortunate to only be a couple back,” Schuller said. “I played poorly today. I felt like an octopus out there. Steve has been playing great, more than carrying his weight.”
Jim Karr and Ben Cook of Palm Beach lit up the Wanamaker Course with birdies on every hole of the front nine for a 27. But they cooled off and made one birdie on the back, “settling” for a 10-under 62 that moved them into a tie for fifth with Mitchell Camp and Cory Kumpf (66) of Aurora, Ohio.
Suzy Whaley, Vice President of the PGA of America, teamed with Ben Polland for a 66 and are tied with Sowards and Steve Schneiter (64) for seventh place at 11-under 205.
The 54-hole cut came at 4-under 212. The final round will be played on the Ryder Course.
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.