SEASIDE, Calif. – Kenny Pigman of Norco, California, bolstered by a 4-under-par 68 on the fabled Bayonet Course, joined Greg Gregory of Burleson, Texas, and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska in sharing the second-round lead of the 51st PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car and OMEGA.
The trio, who each marched to a major championship berth a year ago, found their respective legs on a cold, tough day for scoring to post 4-under-par 140 totals after 36 holes. Gregory and Vermeer each recorded a 70, with Vermeer’s round posted on the partner Black Horse course.
The 36-hole cut of 5-over-par 149 resulted in 99 players advancing to the final 36 holes Tuesday and Wednesday on the Bayonet Course. The field in the largest all-professional national championship will be trimmed after 54 holes to the low 70 scorers and ties.
The low 20 scorers after Wednesday’s final 18 holes earn a berth in the 100th PGA Championship, Aug. 9-12, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
Pigman, Gregory and Vermeer own a one-stroke lead over 2013 PGA Professional Champion Rod Perry of Port Orange, Florida, who came with a 70 at 141. Jamie Broce of Indianapolis (72) and Garrett Okamura of Maui, Hawaii (68), who played Black Horse, were at 142.
Perry, who was seemingly in control of the second round, soared to 6-under-par through 12 holes. But, his momentum ended abruptly with double bogeys at No. 13 and 18, when he sliced his second shot more than 40 yards left of the green. He reached the green in four shots and three-putted.
“I’ve worked hard the last couple of years to eliminate the right side of the golf course,” said Perry, the only left-hander to win this Championship. “Traditionally, I like to hit the ball right to left. That second shot (on Bayonet’s 18th hole), I really need to hit it left to right. To close with a birdie would have been pretty nice, but it was just not a comfortable shot for me to intentionally hook the ball. I am making good swings and rolling the ball really well. Two double bogeys today hurt and I lost my train of thought on both.”
With a 15-mile per hour wind a constant partner, and cold settling in, the afternoon wave of players was a study in grinding.
Pigman, a 29-year-old PGA Assistant Professional at Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma, California, finished tied for 16th in his Championship debut last year. He collected five birdies – three on the front side – and offset a bogey at No. 14 by finishing with a birdie on the 18th hole.
Gregory, 45, a PGA Assistant Professional at Hidden Creek Golf Course in Burleson, Texas, tied for ninth last year with Vermeer, navigated himself around Bayonet by overcoming a disappointing bogey on par-5 10th hole by playing nearly flawlessly the rest of the way with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14, a portion of the legendary “Combat Corner” section of Bayonet.
Vermeer, who became a PGA Director of Instruction in May at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, called upon his Championship experience a year ago; a Web.com event years ago on Bayonet Course and recent Nebraska PGA Section events.
“Going to the PGA Championship last year was something special. It's a hard golf tournament, a lot like this,” said Vermeer. “This is a tough golf course to make birdies on, so it's a struggle out there. To play this well, against a 312 of the best players in the country, and to finish as well as I did last year, it gives me a lot of confidence.”
Vermeer, 40, said Nebraska PGA events are a good confidence-builder going in. “But you never know what to expect on a golf course like this,” he said. “Sometimes you feel like you can make some birdies, and then you get out there and the course is playing harder and faster than it was two days ago during the practice round. So it changes. I have not really holed a lot of putts yet, but I'm making some par saves when I need them, which is key for momentum. So far, so good.”
Defending Champion Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas, turned in a 71 on Bayonet, which left him in a share of 11th place.
NOTES: Matt Dobyns (73-71, 144) of Glen Head, New York, who won the 2012 Championship here at Bayonet Black Horse, made the cut and is currently tied for 11th place. . .Players posting a two-day total of 149 or better made the cut, as opposed to 2012, when 148 was the cut line. . .Among those to make the cut was Dr. Alison Curdt (77-71, 148), a PGA Master Professional from Reseda, California, who is tied for 66th. Curdt -- the first woman Southern California PGA Section member to compete in the PGA Professional Championship -- was one of two women in the Championship field at Bayonet Black Horse. Remarkably, Curdt’s 1-under 71 on Bayonet came despite playing her final 11 holes without her favorite wedge, which was misplaced accidentally by her caddie. It was retrieved near a bunker on No. 16 after her round. . .Seven former PGA Professional Champions made the cut and will continue play on Tuesday: 2013/Perry (4th); 2012, '15/Dobyns (T-11); 2004/Bob Sowards (T-11) of Dublin, Ohio; 2017/Uresti (T-11); 2016/Rich Berberian Jr. (T-22) of Hooksett, New Hampshire; 2007/Chip Sullivan (T-22) of Kilmarnock, Virginia; and 2014/Michael Block (T-66) of Mission Viejo, California, who competed last week in the U.S. Open.