PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – A quarter century after his greatest golf victory – beating highly-regarded Jim Albus in the 1991 New York Metropolitan Open -- Mike Diffley is trying to do something almost as improbable.
Win a PGA Tournament Series event at 57.
Diffley gave himself that opportunity Monday by shooting a 5-under 67, highlighted by a holed-out wedge from 80 yards for an eagle at No. 17, to share the lead with Frank Bensel and Rod Perry in Event No. 3 at PGA Golf Club.
“It landed right behind the hole and spun in,” said Diffley, the head PGA professional at Pelham Country Club (N.Y.) the last 30 years. “The last three holes (on the Ryder Course) were into the wind. At my age, a 440-yard par-4 into the wind isn’t my kind of hole.”
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Diffley had three birdies in his first four holes, the lefty then added three birdies and three pars before dunking the eagle at No. 17.
“I’m already getting calls from people rubbing it in on me pretty good,” Diffley said, chuckling.
“To win a two-day event would be awesome. It would be great to have bragging rights against the young ‘uns.”
Bensel of Jupiter, Fla., birdied three consecutive holes and added four more birdies against two bogeys. Perry of Port Orange, Fla., birdied three of his last four holes.
Frank Esposito, who missed a playoff for the final qualifying spot by a shot at last week’s PGA Tour Champions q-school, was among four players tied for fourth. Esposito was joined at 68 by Brett Melton of Washington, Ind., Colin Corrigan of Cutchogue, N.Y. and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Neb.
Scott Berliner of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Kirk Hanefeld of South Hamilton, Mass., and J.C. Anderson of O’Fallon, Miss., are tied for eighth place after 69s.
The winner receives $5,000.
The PGA Tournament Series is presented by Golf Advisor.