Chad Proehl’s 9 Birdies, Low-Round 64 Lead 2021 Senior PGA Professional Championship
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Last Saturday, Chad Proehl shot a 74 on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club during an unofficial practice round. Five days later, he found himself in a much better groove on the same Ryder Course. Proehl, from Urbandale, Iowa, and a member of the PGA Iowa section, carded nine birdies and tied the tournament record for the lowest first-round score with a 64 on Thursday at the 2021 Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac.
“I think the confidence level is pretty good right now,” Proehl said. “I’ve played long enough. All of these guys have played long enough to know that every day is different. I’ve got positive feelings and momentum. I feel really good about where my game is right now.”
Ray Franz Jr., from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, turned in the best score on the tough 6,880-yard, 72-par Wanamaker Course. Franz’s 67 has him 5 under and in second place before he gets a crack at the Ryder Course on Friday.
“It was nice playing it late in the afternoon,” Franz said about the Wanamaker Course. “I think the wind died down a little bit towards the end. If you can get the Wanamaker (out of the way), that’s good news. I hit the ball well today. I putted good. It was a pretty solid day.”
After Proehl bogeyed his first hole of the day on No. 10, he settled in to birdie three of his next four holes. He birdied 18 before making the turn and picked up birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.
“I got off to a rough start today,” Proehl said. “I hit a good shot, it went into the bunker. You just never know. Golf’s a great game but it can be humbling. I bogeyed my first hole, but from there I played really solid. I think I might have missed one tee shot with my driver and made bogey. Other than that, I putted beautifully. It was just one of those rounds. You get into it and you can’t wait for the next hole.”
Franz started on No. 10 and shot 33 with three birdies before making the turn. After saving par on his first three holes on his back nine, he birdied three of his last six holes to break up a log jam and take sole possession of second place.
Seven golfers are tied for third place at 4 under: Mark Mielke (Atlantis, Florida), Mike Small (Champaign, Illinois), David Witt (Bonita Springs, Florida), T. Bruce Oldendick (Florence, Kentucky), Mitch Camp (Aurora, Ohio), Frank Esposito Jr. (Florham Park, New Jersey) and Alan Morin (Royal Palm Beach, Florida). Mielke, Morin and Small each shot 68 on the Wanaker Course.
Sherry Andonian of Centennial, Colorado, is the lone woman competitor in the field. She shot 1-under 71 on the Wanamaker Course and is tied for 33rd.
The second round gets under way at 8 a.m. (ET) Friday with groups teeing off on both the Ryder and Wanamaker courses. A cut to the low 90 scorers and ties will be made after the round. Following Saturday’s round, a second cut will be made to the low 70 scorers and ties.
The third and final rounds will be played exclusively on the Wanamaker Course.
In addition to the Leo Fraser Trophy, named after the 16th president of the PGA of America, players are competing for a $318,000 purse including the winner’s share of $26,000.
PGA Golf Club ー the PGA of America’s premier 54-hole facility ー hosts multiple PGA Member championships annually, such as the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, Senior PGA Professional Championship (biennially) and the PGA's Tournament Series and Winter Championships.