Nuckolls caps opening 69 with eagle and four birdies in six-hole stretch

Bob Denney
The PGA of America

Series: PGA

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | 2:27 p.m.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Making his fifth appearance in the Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship, Rod Nuckolls posted a 3-under-par 69 on the Wanamaker Course on Tuesday to match his best 18-hole score in the Championship [2009]. He is currently tied for third, with the afternoon wave of the opening round underway.

Nuckolls, 57, overcame a 3-over-par front-nine start, by making a birdie at the 13th hole, and then holing a 65-yard sand wedge approach for eagle on the par-5 15th. He then closed with three straight birdies.


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"I was playing along and nothing great was happening. I was 2-over-par after 14, then holed my second shot. It ran in like a putt," he explained. "It took me a while today to learn that with as firm as the greens were, I wasn’t deducting enough yardage. I kept going long with my approaches and that was how I made my bogeys on the front."

At the difficult 198-yard 17th hole, Nuckolls maneuvered a 4-iron, which came to rest four feet from the flagstick.

"I had a good season last year, but this year, we haven’t played four rounds of golf," he said. "The weather has been so bad in the Midwest. It’s great to get down here. Everybody hates me back home. It snowed Monday and I called back and told them I was looking for sunscreen."

A total of 264 PGA Professionals, who are at least 50 years of age, have qualified to compete in the Championship through one of the 41 PGA Sections. The low 70 scorers and ties after the second round, April 16, advance to the weekend's final 36 holes at the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club.

The low 35 finishers earn a berth in the 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 22-25, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.

The Championship, originally slated for last October, was postponed due to a week of inclement weather in Northern Virginia.