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Tyler Collet leads the 2022 PGA Professional Championship after one round, but as noteworthy as that is, it does not provide full context.
Collet carded a 6-under 65, good for a one-stroke lead over a grouping of six ー Trevor Bensel, Brandon Bingaman, Aaron Black, Jared Jones, Austin Hurt and Casey Pyne. Seventeen players are within two shots of the lead.
What made Collet’s round remarkable is that it came on the Championship’s primary course, Fazio Foothills, which is the more difficult of the two tests at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.
Official yardage puts the Fazio Foothills (par 71) 397 yards longer than its sister course, Coore Crenshaw (par 70). And while both courses offer elevation changes that would physically challenge any of the 312 PGA Professionals in the field, Fazio Foothills played approximately 2.5 shots harder in round 1.
What’s more is that 13 of the top 17 names on the first-round leaderboard played the more forgiving Coore Crenshaw layout on Easter Sunday.
Collet ー an Assistant Golf Professional at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Florida ー teed off on 10 and was very quickly 5-under through five holes thanks to a trio of birdies (Nos. 10, 14 and 15) and an eagle on the driveable par-4 12th.
“With the (hole) middle right, I figured ‘left’ was the proper play with a 3-wood,” Collet said of his eagle, one of only two on the day Fazio’s No. 12. “Then I hit it a bit short and left, almost hole high. I got lucky as my chip (12-13 feet) came out hot, but it smacked the pin and dropped in.”
Post round, Collet was keenly aware that he had positioned himself well and was pleased with how he accomplished it.
“If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago that I’d shoot a 65, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Collet. “A couple of days ago, I found something on the range (with his takeaway) and I am sticking with it.
“This round (on the Fazio Foothills) makes me feel confident in what I am doing. I still have to go out and shoot a number tomorrow and keep my head straight while doing it.”
Collet, 26, played in the 2021 PGA Championship after finishing T-8 in the PGA Professional Championship last year at PGA Golf Club. He is a product of Eastern Kentucky University’s Professional Golf Management program.
The quintet that posted 5-under 65s on the Coore Crenshaw includes Brandon Bingaman, who carded five birdies and no bogeys on the front 9, but three-putted from 35 feet in 18 to lose a share of the lead.
“I knew it was important to take advantage of Coore Crenshaw,” said Bingaman, an Assistant Golf Professional from Bent Tree in Dallas. “It is a bit of an easier golf course, especially off the tee. I wanted to get a good round in, which I did, and see how tomorrow goes.”
Bensel’s round started innocently enough, but it was his birdie-birdie-birdie capper on his final three holes (Nos. 7-9) that put him in striking distance.
“I had a wedge in hand on both the 7th and 9th holes and was twice able to put it within five feet,” said the 27-year-old Bensel, an Assistant Golf Professional at Sandy Run Country Club in Oreland, Pennsylvania. “It was nice to get a couple of easy birdies there and I added a 20-footer from below the hole on the 8th.”
An Assistant Golf Professional at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, Pyne played bogey-free golf with five birdies (Nos. 3, 5, 12, 15, 16) in his PGA Professional Championship debut.
Jones' opening round was a bit more erratic, but equally effective. The Director of Instruction at River Oaks Country Club in Houston began his afternoon with a bogey-bogey sequence on Coore Crenshaw’s back side, but after that registered an eagle on the 12th followed by six birdies.
Aaron Black, a General Manager at Springfield Golf Club in Fort Mill, South Carolina, closed strong with five birdies and an eagle (on the 12th) among his final eight holes.
Austin Hurt, like Collet, opened on the Fazio Foothills. A PGA Head Professional at Wing Point Golf & Country Club in Seattle, he began his day with a bogey, but collected eight birdies among his subsequent 17 holes and is a shot back.
Ten players trail Collet by two shots on a crowded PGA Professional Championship leaderboard, including two PGA Professional Champions: Michael Block (2014) and Ryan Vermeer (2018).
The afternoon’s final group on the Fazio Foothills Course did not finish due to darkness and will complete their first round on Monday morning at 8:45 a.m. CDT before beginning their second round on Coore Crenshaw.
Defending Champion Omar Uresti, who was born, raised and educated in Austin, opened with a one-over 72 on the Fazio Foothills and is seven shots back. Uresti is one of fourteen PGA Professional Champions in the field.
The field will be trimmed to the low 90 scorers and ties after Monday’s round, with the Fazio Foothills hosting the final two rounds. The low 70 scorers and ties after Tuesday’s third round advance to the final round.
The low 20 scorers earn berths in the 2022 PGA Championship, May 16-22, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The second round of the 2022 PGA Professional Championship will be broadcast live on Golf Channel on Monday, April 18 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. EDT