FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (May 17, 2019) – PGA Club Professionals Marty Jertson of Phoenix, Arizona; Rob Labritz of Pound Ridge, New York; and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, made the 36-hole cut in the 2019 PGA Championship Friday afternoon at Bethpage Black Course.
On a layout renowned for its challenges, the Black - on this day - became a place where some dreams come true.
The trio became the largest PGA Club Professional contingent to make the weekend in the Championship since the PGA of America began its 20-player exemption in 2006.
Each player carried special motivation along the way. Eighty-two players made the 36-hole cut of 4-over-par 144.
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Jertson, the Vice President of Fitting and Performance for PING, designed the company’s 410 driver, and used it to his advantage in his fourth attempt to make the weekend in a PGA Championship. He finished with a 1-under-par 69 and a 36-hole total of 141 to lead the PGA Club Professional contingent.
“I’ve been saying that this week it doesn’t benefit the straight hitter who hits it short and it doesn’t benefit the long hitter who hits it crooked,” said Jertson, who has had a hand in 125 PING patents. “You need to do both here. My driver gave me so much confidence.
”I know I’m not going to hit every fairway. I didn’t hit any cuckoo foul balls.”
Labritz, the PGA Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, New York, rallied with a 69 after a Thursday 75. Vermeer, the PGA Director of Instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, who had a solid 70 in the opening round, struggled to a 74 and got up and down for a par at No. 18, making a six-foot par putt. Then, it was a waiting game for Vermeer and Labritz, until the cut was announced at 6:30 p.m.
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It was the second PGA cut for the 47-year-old Labritz in six appearances. He was the Low Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits. Vermeer, 41, made the PGA cut for the first time in three attempts and is the first Nebraska PGA Section Member to accomplish the feat.
He added it to Section milestones in 2018 when he became the first from Nebraska to capture a PGA Professional Championship and the PGA Professional Player of the Year award.
Since 2013, Labritz had carried in his yardage book 10 words of inspiration from one of his club members – the late Robbie Risman – who perished in an automobile accident several years ago.
“Keep grinding always; but look around and enjoy the ride.”
“Robbie left me a bottle of champagne for the first major I qualified for – the PGA at Hazeltine (2002),” said Labritz. “He left a note. Probably one of the nicest notes I ever received. They’re words I live by.”
When the wait to determine the cut began, Labritz was a picture of calm.
“I’m not the guy who’s going to kick himself,” he said. “I’ve learned over the years not to kick myself. I shot what I shot. We’ll see if it’s good enough. Played my heart out.” Nearly two hours later, Labritz had spectators and family celebrating – many wearing “Rob’s Mob” t-shirts.
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Vermeer didn’t have any piece of equipment of charm in his bag. What he did keep with him, he said, was the support long distance from friends, family and club members.
“I’ve got 60 texts and counting,” said Vermeer. “It was a big relief to learn about making the cut on the number. I didn’t expect it to be as stressful. This week, I take a lot of pride in the support I have received.”