Andy Svoboda Takes 5-Shot Lead at 2022 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship
By Craig Dolch
Andy Svoboda hits his tee shot on the third hole during the 2022 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club on Friday, November 18, 2022 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Austen Amacker/PGA of America)
Andy Svoboda had a simple formula Friday to remain at the top of the leaderboard in the National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship supported by Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO/Asics.
Take care of the par-5s. Don’t make a bogey. And, for good measure, hole a chip.
It added up to a 5-under 67 for Svoboda in windy conditions on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club. Svoboda started the day in a three-way tie for the lead and ended it with a five-shot lead over Domenico Geminiani and Mike Ballo at 8-under 136.
“It was a great round,” said Svoboda, who works at Engineers Country Club in the Metropolitan PGA. “I birdied all the par-5s and chipped in at No. 5. I hit the ball well and had a lot of good two-putting.”
Geminiani, from Old Corkscrew Golf Club in the South Florida PGA, matched Svoboda’s 67, which also was bogey free. Geminiani shot an opening 74, leaving him five behind.
“I played really well,” Geminiani said. “It’s so windy out there, you have to play smart. Andrew (Svoboda) is playing amazing. You have to make birdies to catch him, but you don’t want to force it.”
Ballo, who works at Westchester Country Club in the Metropolitan PGA, shot a 69 that included two birdies on his last three holes. He had five birdies against two bogeys.
The bogey-free 67s by Svoboda and Geminiani were impressive considering only four players are under par on the challenging Wanamaker Course through 36 holes. Eleven players broke par in the first round, 14 in the second.
Svoboda is no stranger to leaderboards. The 43-year-old New York native played on the PGA Tour for three years (2013-’15), his best finish a T2 at the 2014 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour and qualified for the U.S. Open four times.
“I’ve played some golf,” Svoboda said.
He stopped playing on the major tours in 2018, taking a job at Engineers Country Club. This is his first Assistant PGA Professional Championship, and he said winning this weekend would be very meaningful.
“It would be great,” Svoboda said of winning. “I want to get into the national club pro. I’m trying to build my resume as a PGA Professional and winning would definitely be a huge step in doing that.”
Brian Bergstol of Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort in the Philadelphia PGA, is fourth at 1-under after a 72. Bergstol was runner-up last year.
Danny Lewis (75-144), who shared the first-round lead with Svoboda and Colin Inglis (76-145), is tied for fifth with Connor Costello (69) of Garden City Golf Club in the Metropolitan PGA.
Defending champion Jin Chung (73) is tied for 30th at 5-over 149. The 36-hole cut came at 9-over 153.
First place pays $12,000 from the $50,000 purse. They’re all chasing Svoboda, who says he doesn’t want to take his foot off the pedal.
“I’m going to stay aggressive,” he said.
For more information about the 2022 National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, visit HERE.