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Jaysen Hansen, Brian Caroll share lead

Ohio’s Jaysen Hansen rides back-to-back eagles; Illinois’ Brian Carroll nearly error-free to share lead in the 51st PGA Professional Championship

SEASIDE, Calif. – Jaysen Hansen of Solon, Ohio, recorded his first back-to-back eagles, while Brian Carroll of Crystal Lake, Illinois, crafted a nearly error-free debut with respective 4-under-par 68s Sunday to share the opening-round lead of the 51st PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car and OMEGA.
 
Hansen and Carroll, who finished some six hours apart, made their impact on the Black Horse course in the largest all-professional national championship. Hansen, 39, the PGA Head Professional at Beechmont Country Club in Cleveland, was making his seventh Championship appearance.
 
Carroll, a 34-year-old PGA Head Professional at Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles, Illinois, recorded five birdies and a bogey in his first competitive round on the Bayonet Black Horse complex. He benefited from friend, Josh Esler, a golf professional who retains Web.com Tour status and is caddying this week. Esler is currently from Santa Cruz, California, but whose roots are in Illinois. Esler, the son of a PGA Professional, also knows the  Bayonet Black Horse property well enough to have provided Carroll with invaluable practice round notes.
 
“It was a great Father’s Day,” said Carroll, the father of a 3-year-old  and nine-month-old sons. “I started with a game plan and executed the shots like I wanted.  I only got in trouble once, three-putting after being on the wrong side of the hole at No. 5. I actually left a few out there, which is crazy because the course is so tough.”    

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Hansen and Carroll are two strokes ahead of a nine-player contingent at 70 featuring Scott Berliner of Queensbury, New York; Jamie Broce of Indianapolis; Matt Doyle of Hobe Sound, Florida; Darin Fisher of Albia, Iowa; Greg Gregory of Burleson, Texas; Zachary Johnson of Farmington, Utah; Peter Jones of Roswell, Georgia; Wyatt Worthington II of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska.
 
Doyle, a PGA Head Professional at The Misquamicut Club in Westerly, Rhode Island, and Vermeer, the PGA Teaching Professional at Tiburon Golf Club in Omaha, share the day’s low round on the partner Bayonet Course.
 
Hansen began his day on the back nine at Black Horse, and eagled the par-5 18th hole (his ninth hole of the day) and the No. 1 hole. He sped to 6-under through 11 holes, before cooling off with bogeys at Nos. 12 and 14.
 
It was Hansen’s best 18-hole performance in 14 PGA Professional Championship rounds, and sparked by what he accomplished a year ago first on a national and then a global stage.
 
“Going back to back eagles was pretty special,” said the PGA Head Professional at Beechmont Country Club in Cleveland. “I’ve never done that before. In fact, when we left and headed to 2, I said, ‘maybe I can hole one here and make it three eagles in a row and we’ll have a 59-watch going on here.’ ”

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Though that dream round didn’t materialize, Hansen said his confidence was bolstered by first finishing tied for ninth in the 2017 Championship and then bouncing back from an 84 in the first round of the 2017 PGA Championship with a 2-under-par 70 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
 
“The experience from last year absolutely helped,” said Hansen. “To do what I did last year in Oregon (at Crosswater Club in Sunriver) and then at the PGA and see what that was like, it was pretty special.”     
 
There was one final dose of atonement for Hansen on a cool, gusty day by the Monterey Bay where he missed the cut with an 82-73 start in 2012 – the last time the Championship visited Northern California.   
 
“I had never played that side (Black Horse) very well the last time I was here,” said Hansen. “Today, I made some putts.” 
 
Hansen’s eagles came courtesy of a pair of solid 3-wood approaches. The first was a low laser on the 528-yard No. 18 hole that came to rest four feet from the cup; and on No. 1, he hit a high approach on the 556-yard hole to 15 feet above the flagstick, and stroked the putt home.

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“Two different shots, but with the same end result,” said Hansen, who said that he was caught looking too far ahead. “I don’t know if I got nervous, was scared, or didn’t commit to the shots. We just had to calm down – like the PGA – stay in the moment. I hit a couple of bad shots coming in, but I drove the ball well and that helped.”
 
Defending Champion Omar Uresti of Austin, Texas, parred his first 17 holes on Black Horse, and closed with a bogey for a 73. He matched his opening round last year in Sunriver, Oregon, and was five strokes back.
   
The PGA Professional Championship, featuring a 312-member field and a $650,000 purse, is broadcast live by Golf Channel. The field will be trimmed to the low 90 scorers and ties Monday; and to the low 70 scores and ties on Tuesday.
 
The low 20 scorers after Wednesday’s final round earn a berth in the 100th PGA Championship, Aug. 9-12, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
 
Begun in 1968, the PGA Professional Championship is presented by Club Car and OMEGA; with supporting partners Nike, TaylorMade Golf, Titleist/FootJoy; Golf Channel and the PGA TOUR.
 
Notes: While many in the field spent a few days adjusting to a new time zone, Michael Block of Mission Viejo, California, enjoyed no such luxury. Block, the 2014 PGA Professional Champion, spent his week at Shinnecock Hills, where he played in the U.S. Open and missed the cut. He arrived in Seaside late Saturday and was able to practice only briefly. Block’s 76  on Black Horse came while playing with fellow former Champions Mike Small (72) of Champaign, Illinois, and Bob Sowards (72) of Dublin, Ohio.  . . Dave Bahr of Cincinnati, Ohio, recorded a hole-in-one on the 180-yard No. 15 hole at Black Horse. He used a 5-iron.