Category - Member Events
Five Things to Know About Round 1 at the PGA Professional Championship
By Ryan Adams, PGA
The eighth hole at Twin Warriors.
Finally — the moment 312 of the best playing PGA Professionals have waited for has arrived.
The 2023 PGA Professional Championship got underway April 30 from Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs just north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a glorious — but windy— sunny desert day.
It was an action-packed Round 1, as players tussled for position to get close to a Corebridge Financial PGA team spot — the low 20 finishers — on the leaderboard.
Here’s what else you need to know from the first day in Santa Ana Pueblo, where Round 1 will resume tomorrow at 7:45 a.m. local due to darkness:
Worthington II leads after 4-under 68
From the tee box, it may have looked like the PGA Teaching Professional from Gahanna, Ohio, was in for a tough day — he only hit 3 out of 14 fairways. But, that’s why you play the game, and Worthington found his form with approach shots, hitting 15 out of 18 greens and making five birdies. The Southern Ohio PGA Section Member is the solo leader after Round 1.
3-under is a popular — and good spot — to be on the leaderboard
Behind Worthington is an elite eight of PGA Members who shot 69 in Round 1 — six of whom were playing the more difficult Twin Warriors. Garret Howell, Daniel Rodgers, Tommy Sharp, Brad Marek, Vinnie Poncino, Casey Pyne, Chris Sanger and Greg Koch are all within striking distance of Worthington at 3-under entering Round 2. Koch (2021), Marek (2021), Pyne (2022) and Sharp (2016) have all been on a Corebridge PGA Financial Team in Championships prior, which will certainly help as the pressure mounts in New Mexico.
Twin Warriors proves tough, while Santa Ana holds its own
While not all scores are in yet, the early statistics show that both Twin Warriors and Santa Ana are providing a decent challenge for the 312 PGA Members in the field. Santa Ana Golf Club, predicted to be the easier of the sister courses, had 40 rounds at or under par while Twin Warriors yielded 27. It’ll be interesting to see if this semi-balance between the two courses continues in Round 2, where the winds are forecasted to be lower.
The statistics we’re about to share just go to show that, yes, every player in this field is indeed good. Some, however, rose from good to great in the first round — especially when it came to finding the fairway. Tim Weinhart and Danny Balin both were a perfect 14/14, while Brian Smock, Rob McClellan, Greg Koch and Greg Sonnier were one shy at 13/14. Koch used that accuracy to go 3-under while Balin is lurking at even par. Finding the short grass pays off, people.
A walk through the wildlife of New Mexico
One final thought: How about those views at both Twin Warriors and Santa Ana? If you were able to catch some of the livestream today on the NBC Sports app and GolfChannel.com, it seems like every hole weaves through nature, with knolls, ridges and the Sandia Mountains nearby. If you missed coverage today, not to fear: the PGA Professional Championship is live on Golf Channel from 4-7 p.m. ET the next three days, for everyone to enjoy.