The six players tied at the top of the 79th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship leaderboard –- Barry Lane, Peter Lonard, Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Stuart Smith (CP) -- are the most after the first round in the 79-year history of the Championship. In 1981, five players were tied for the opening-round lead: Al Balding, Miller Barber, Bill Collins, Auggie Navarro, and Art Wall. The last time six players were tied for the lead after any round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship: 2014/Round 2 (Bart Bryant, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Kiyoshi Murota, Steen Tinning, Tom Watson).
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PGA CLUB PROFESSIONAL PROWESS
Stuart Smith of Reno, Nevada, and Mark Mielke of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, led a 41-member PGA Club Professional delegation in the Championship. In his fourth overall Championship appearance and third trip to Harbor Shores, Smith’s first-round 66 was his best 18-hole performance by four strokes. Smith is a PGA Director of Golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.
Meanwhile, PGA Life Member Mark Mielke turned in a 68, which was his best 18-hole score in 11 rounds of the Championship. Mielke finished T-28 in 2013 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, earning him a share of Low Club Professional honors.
“This is my third trip to Harbor Shores, but you need more time," said Mielke. The two times before I didn’t hit it all that good and was really struggling. I was behind the 8-ball. Today, I hit it good. I was aggressive on certain holes and really protective on others. I was kind of in control of the golf ball, which was nice."
NO SHORTAGE OF EAGLES FROM SHORT JR.
Wes Short Jr.’s surge up the leaderboard began on the 12th hole Thursday, his third hole of the Championship, when he holed out from 80 yards for eagle, using a lob wedge. Short’s eagle was the lone 2 of the day at No. 12. But Short was not done. He later eagled the par-5 9th, as his 3-wood from 261 yards stopped 15 feet from the pin. Short made the putt and by days end, had accounted for two of Round 1’s five eagles.
Harbor Shores has produced two champions who have held a share of the lead after the first round: Roger Chapman (2012) and Rocco Mediate (2016). In 2014, Joe Durant jumped out to the 18-hole advantage, but settled for a tie for fifth.
PAST KITCHENAID SENIOR PGA CHAMPIONS
Five past KitchenAid Senior PGA Champions are competing this week at Harbor Shores: Jay Haas (2006, ’08), Tom Lehman (2010), Rocco Mediate (2016), Colin Montgomerie (2014, ’15), and Mike Reid (2005). Montgomerie (-2) sits in a tie for 24th, while Lehman, Haas, and Reid each carded a 1-under 70 and are tied for 45th. Mediate, the most recent champion at Harbor Shores, recovered from a double-bogey on the par-3 13th with consecutive birdies on 14 and 15. He finished at 1-over 72 (T77).
JACK’S (COMING) BACK
On Friday, for the first time in six years, golf’s greatest champion and acclaimed designer Jack Nicklaus will visit Benton Harbor to see firsthand the continued growth and change in the community since he first conceptualized Harbor Shores. Nicklaus will be accompanied by his wife, Barbara, who was named the PGA’s inaugural First Lady of Golf in 1998. To celebrate Nicklaus’ impact on Michigan’s Great Southwest, Whirlpool Corporation and the PGA of America will unveil a new community program that pays tribute to Barbara and Jack Nicklaus during a 1:00 p.m. news conference in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship’s Media Center Interview Room.
CHEW ON THIS!
Celebrity chef demonstrations continue with Co-Host of ABC’s Emmy-Award Winning daytime series “The Chew” and Bravo “Top Chef” alumni Carla Hall taking the stage in the Fairway Club at 1 p.m. on Friday. Immediately following Carla is local Chef Cheyenne Galbraith from Bistro on the Boulevard.
HALL OF FAMERS ROCKIN' OUT IN THE PARK TONIGHT
Come one, come all! Morris Day, best known as the lead singer of The Time, and R&B Music Hall of Fame Inductees, The Whispers, are performing a free concert at the Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park in downtown Benton Harbor this evening. The concert begins with The Whispers at 7 p.m., followed immediately by Morris Day and the Time. Hope to see you there!