SEASIDE, Calif. -- Ryan Vermeer is late to the club professional scene.
But he sure is making up for lost time.
Vermeer, the Director of Instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Neb., tied for ninth in his first PGA Professional Championship one year ago to earn a spot in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
After matching rounds of 70 to open at Bayonet on Sunday and Black Horse on Monday, Vermeer took the early clubhouse lead at 4 under in the 51st PGA Professional Championship.
"I think the experience from last year has helped me a lot so far this week," said Vermeer, who had three birdies and one bogey at Black Horse. "Obviously going to the PGA Championship was special. It was a hard golf tournament -- a lot like this. This is a tough golf course to make birdies on, so it's kind of a struggle out there. You've got to try and keep it in the fairway, knock it on the green and make some putts."
Vermeer hits the ball a long way and admitted that he loves the fact that this week's venue sets up for him to let it fly.
That said, a solid short game is what has kept the first two solid rounds intact.
"I've just been hitting the ball good and knocking it on the greens," he said. "I haven't hit a whole lot of putts yet, but I'm making the par saves when I need them. And that's key for momentum. So far so good."
And that included the par-5 18th hole, where he got up and down for a momentum-saving par.
"Par saves anywhere are good. On a par 5 for me, it's huge. I can't stand making bogeys on par 5s. The up and down there was really big. It'll make lunch taste a lot better and it will make me sleep a lot better tonight."
Vermeer attributed his stellar play to his driving.
"I've avoided trouble because I've been driving the ball well," he said. "Really, this last hole here is the only time I've been in any kind of trouble off the tee. I was up on the hillside over there with a little bit of a shaky lie, but outside of that -- even if I've been in the rough, I've been barely off, so it's been OK."
Vermeer, winner of the 2017 Mizuno Pro/Assistant Championship will be more than ready for what's ahead the next two days.
"To be here with 312 of the best players in the country of our caliber and to do as well as I did last year gives me a lot of confidence," he said. "I've been playing well in our section events back home, so that's been a good confidence builder coming in."
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