Rich Berberian Jr., Jamie Broce tied for 36-hole lead at PGA Professional Championship

By Bob Denney
Published on
Rich Berberian Jr., Jamie Broce tied for 36-hole lead at PGA Professional Championship

SUNRIVER, ORE. – Jamie Broce of Toledo, Ohio, closed out a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 Monday at Crosswater Club, earning a share of the lead with defending Champion Rich Berberian Jr. after 36 holes of the 50th PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA.

Broce and Berberian are deadlocked at 6-under-par 137, a stroke ahead of former Champion Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, and Brian Smock of Coronado, California, whose 7-under-par 64 at the Meadows Course in his debut appearance was a shot off the Championship single-round record.

Two-time Champion Matt Dobyns of Glen Head, New York, (71) heads a foursome at 140 that includes Paul Claxton of Claxton, Georgia (70); Curtis Malm of Aurora, Illinois (70); and Craig Bowden of Bloomington, Indiana (71).

50th PGA Professional Championship: Leaderboard | Photos | Highlights

Broce, who has coached the University of Toledo men’s golf team the past five seasons, rolled home a 15-foot par-saving putt on the 18th green to put himself back into contention of a national championship that slipped through his grasp in 2014.

“It was a tough day out there. The ball was really jumping and the greens were rock hard,” said Broce, who was a national Championship runner-up three years earlier in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “I did a good job of keeping the ball in play. Even when I did not have a good number I hit to 25 to 30 feet and two-putted. I hit a few good wedges and took advantage of those.”

Broce made a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and two-putt the 18th hole from 80 feet, capped by a 15-foot par save.

It was a rollercoaster afternoon for Berberian, who is bidding to become the first back-to-back national champion since Mike Small in 2009 and ’10.

“A good start, a slow back nine, and I just tried to mosey my way around,” said Berberian, the PGA Director of Instruction at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. “

A year ago in the final round of the PGA Professional Championship at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York, Berberian shared the lead before making a triple-bogey on the 12th hole. He managed to stage a memorable rally to victory after that.

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As the sun began to dip over nearby Mount Bachelor, Berberian had cruised to 8-under par before a two-stroke lead evaporated with back-to-back bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes. He admitted he had some flashbacks.

“It’s the same deal as last year,” said Berberian. “I bogeyed No. 11, (a 547-yard, par-5) and I had a 7-iron in my hand. It took one bounce and kicked in the water. It could have been a lot worse than it was. They gave me a fortunate ruling when they caught it on camera that the ball had bounced near the green.”

The field of 312 in the largest all-professional national championship was trimmed to the low 90 scorers and ties, with 108 advancing at 4-over-par 147.

The low 70 scorers and ties following Tuesday’s third round will compete in an 18-hole finale Wednesday. The final 36 holes will be conducted at Crosswater Club.

Smock, the PGA Head Professional at Coronado Golf Course, made his move on the par-71 Meadows Course, which is set up more than 500 yards shorter than the par-72 Crosswater Club.

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Smock opened his morning with birdies on three of the morning’s initial five holes (Nos. 1, 4 and 5) and his charge was in gear.

“I don’t know what the cut is here, but I knew I was in 90th place (after Sunday’s opening round) and I needed to get it going,” said Smock. “I figured I’d take some chances early to get some momentum … and I got off to a good start then kept it rolling. I just stayed within myself and did not do anything too fancy. I hit a lot of irons off the tee, while the group behind us was bombing balls down the fairways, but I hit a lot of 5-irons and 3-irons off the tee.”

Smock collected six birdies before a bogey at the par-4 14th, when he misclubbed on his approach and could not get up and down from right of the green. He rebounded with two more birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, the last of which he capped by making an eight-footer.

His near blemish-free round was a stroke off the competitive course and Championship record shared by Perry and Corey Prugh, who each posted a 63 in the first round of the 2013 Championship.

While Smock’s round was the low round of the Championship, it was his gritty 74 in Sunday’s opening 18 holes that set up his week. He was minutes from withdrawing from the Championship before receiving a prescription from a local pharmacy to ease the pain from a herniated disk/spinal stenosis, which he’s endured for more than a year.

“I am lucky to know Brad Lardon (reigning Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year from Santa Fe, New Mexico). Brad’s brother is a doctor and he interceded on my behalf by calling in a prescription for me yesterday morning,” said Smock. “I aggravated things by carrying my bag in a practice round (at Crosswater) and my back was a mess. I did not play the next day. I played here (at Meadows) two days ago because I had never played it. (Yesterday’s opening round at Crosswater Club) was probably a bigger round than today because I could have shot a million. I kind of hung in there.”

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Smock’s play and position at the Championship’s halfway mark had him feeling good about his prospects.

“I know I’m in a pretty decent position. I have a lot of tournament experience, as I played for a long time on the (Tour) and I went through the Apprenticeship (Program) and I’ve been a Class A for a year and a half now,” said Smock. “But really, I just came out here to enjoy myself and I love competing, so this still gives us an opportunity to do that. I want to take advantage of that while I can.”

The low 20 scorers following Wednesday’s final round earn a berth in the 99th PGA Championship, Aug. 10-13, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.

NOTES: PGA Master Professional Jim White of Lincoln Nebraska, missed the cut after rounds of 76 and 73, but not before tying the all-time appearance (29) record of 1984 Champion Bill Schumaker of Columbia City, Indiana. White, 67, now has 91 career rounds, second only to Bob Ford (93) of Jupiter, Florida. . . Curtis Malm of Aurora, Illinois, who recorded his second straight 70 to land in a group at 3-under par, may figure his odds have improved in his fourth trip. Malm missed the cut in 2013 at Crosswater when weather battered the field for four days; and lost a six-way playoff in 2014 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a PGA Championship berth. He is tied for fifth at 140.