Pinehurst News

Pinehurst Pros — Great play on a tough course

Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum

SEASIDE, Calif. – Much of the talk around the PGA Professional National Championship entering the tournament concerned the difference in difficulty between the two courses the 312-player field would play for the first two rounds.

Just ask first-round leader Mike Small. “You can’t fake it around Bayonet, that’s for sure,” he told PGA.com.

After Sunday’s opening round, players who started on the Bayonet Course clearly had a tougher road, with the course playing nearly two strokes more difficult than the Black Horse Course.

And after Monday’s second round, little changed.

While Bayonet may have played a tad easier – repeat, a tad – it was still the more challenging of the two courses. After Sunday’s first round, the field struggled to an even 77.0 scoring average. The sample size was doubled following the other half of the field playing the Bayonet in Monday’s second round. But little changed – the Bayonet, after 312 rounds, is still playing to a 76.9 average.

The Black Horse? It still remains more than shot easier.

So does any of that mean anything?

Oh yeah. It makes what Pinehurst Resort’s Kelly Mitchum and Todd Camplin did all the more impressive.

Pinehurst’s Todd Camplin. Photo by The Fayetteville Observer

Camplin, who qualified for the PGA Championship after winning a playoff to earn one of 20 berths out of the National Championship a year ago, made the cut again in 2012, and shook off two bogeys in his first seven holes on Monday at Bayonet to play the next nine holes in even par. He did finish his round with a bogey on the par-5 ninth to fall to 3 over, but easily made the cut.

By doing so, Camplin still has a chance to make a move back into the top 20. Entering Tuesday’s third round, he stands just three strokes out of a tie for 17th, which would put him back into a playoff for a trip to Kiawah, S.C., and a second straight PGA Championship appearance.

Then there’s Mitchum. An online scoring error during Mitchum’s afternoon round showed him as high as 6 under late Monday night and alone in second place, just two shots out of the lead held by Matt Dobyns.

But before Mitchum was done, the error was corrected – he made par instead of birdie on the 12th hole – and a finishing-hole bogey dropped Mitchum to 4 under and into a tie for fourth, still only four shots out of the lead.

But what the fervor surrounding Mitchum’s online score may have masked was a fantastic round of golf on a course PGA Tour winner Jason Dufner has even called “impossible.” Mitchum had one birdie, one bogey and seven pars in a clean front nine, then made birdie twice in a six-hole span on the back nine to get as low as 5 under for the championship. His 71 was one of the better scores turned in on Bayonet on Monday.

Which brings us to Tuesday’s third round. The 77 players still alive will play Bayonet.

For the guys from Pinehurst, it seems that’s a good thing.

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Putter Boy pays his respects

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Home away from home.

If not Pinehurst, where else might the Putter Boy want to spend a part of his centennial year?

St. Andrews, of course.

Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross had his roots at St. Andrews, serving as an apprentice to 4-time Open Championship winner “Old” Tom Morris before coming to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The Ross legend across the country speaks for itself, but his indelible mark has been placed forever on Pinehurst, home to his famed Pinehurst No. 2.

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Putter Boy pays his respects.

Lucy Richards designed the Putter Boy statue in 1912, getting help from Ross. Known then as the “Golf Lad,” the statue was used for a sundial (hence the long club, which was needed for accurate sundial readings), leading to a “Sundial Boy” nickname. Eventually in the 1970s, the “Putter Boy” name caught on.

The Putter Boy has stood as Pinehurst’s undeniable symbol since his inception.

Yet it only seems right that he spend a few days in his home away from home, whether it be at St. Andrews’ Swilcan Bridge or taking a moment to pay homage at “Old” Tom Morris’ resting place.

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PGA Pro National Championship — Black Horse vs. Bayonet

With 312 players in the field, there is not a lot of margin for error at the PGA Professional National Championship in Seaside, Calif.

But while Pinehurst Resort professionals Kelly Mitchum and Todd Camplin have played their way into the top 15 percent of the leaderboard after the first round of play was completed Sunday, to stay there they may have to play their most inspired golf today in Monday’s second round.

Mitchum, Camplin and fellow Pinehurst pro Don Sweeting each began their national championships on the Black Horse course, a 6,904-yard par-72 layout that has been considered by the field to be the easier of the tournament’s two courses.

The 7,082-yard par-72 Bayonet course may not be excessively longer than Black Horse, but it definitely played tougher on Sunday. The Black Horse course played to an average score of 75.6 on Sunday, and five of the top six players, including leader Mike Small, played Black Horse. There were 89 double bogeys made on Sunday at Black Horse, with 10 scores of the dreaded “others” – scores worse than double bogey.

The Bayonet, though, played to an average of 77.0 with a staggering 136 double bogeys and 21 “others.”

The Bayonet’s reputation is certainly sturdy. Brian Gaffney, who played at last week’s U.S. Open at Olympic and shot 4-under 68 at Black Horse on Sunday, said he heard horror stories from none other than PGA Tour winner Jason Dufner.

“(Olympic) was different than anything I have ever touched,” Gaffney told the PGA on Sunday. “ You have to shape everything right to left or left to right. Most courses are just there and don’t force you to have to do something. I thought it would be a relief to come here after Olympic, but I had lunch with Jason Dufner and I told him where I was going and he said if you think Olympic is tough, that place (Bayonet) is impossible.”

Camplin, who qualified for the PGA Championship field a year ago, will get the first taste of Bayonet of the Pinehurst pros with an 8:55 a.m. Pacific tee time after a 1-over 73 on Sunday. Mitchum, who played in the 2005 and 2006 PGA Championships, carded a 3-under 69 to finish the first round in a tie for seventh and will tee off a 2 p.m. Don Sweeting, who shot a 77, will tee off at 2:25 p.m.

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Three Pinehurst pros will play for 2012 PGA Championship berth

PINEHURST — The 45th PGA Professional National Championship will feature three Pinehurst Golf Professionals. Don Sweeting, Todd Camplin, and Kelly Mitchum will compete at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses at California’s famed Monterey Peninsula, June 24-27, 2012. You can catch the action on the Golf Channel, Sunday, June 24 9:30-11:30 pm, Monday, June 25 3:30-6pm, Tuesday, June 26 4-7pm, and Wednesday’s final round coverage from 4-7pm.

The PGA Professional National Championship is for Golf Club Professionals and Teachers who are members of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. It has been held by the PGA of America since 1968, The PGA Professional National Championship is usually been played in late June, six to seven weeks before the PGA Championship. The Championship presents a 312-player field representing 41 PGA Sections competing at the peak of their games, and with its 20 top finishers earning a berth in the 94th PGA Championship host at Kiawah, S.C.

Camplin, the head golf professional at Pinehurst No. 7, recently competed on the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage at Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., and made the field for last year’s PGA Championship in Atlanta after a top-20 finish at the PGA National Championship.

The PGA Championship was originally the leading championship organized by the whole body of professionals, both club and touring, in contrast to the other majors, which are all organized by bodies controlled by golf’s amateur establishment. Since 1968 the PGA Championship has been seen to be run mainly for the benefit of the elite of touring professionals, but unlike the other majors, it continues to reserve places for the club pros.

Note: The PGA site has been updated with tee times here. Also, beginning with play tomorrow, live scoring will be found here. Sweeting will tee off on the first hole of the Black Horse Course at 9:10 a.m. (all times Pacific). Camplin will tee off at 2 p.m. on the first hole of the Black Horse course. Mitchum will tee off at 8:50 a.m. on the 10th tee of the Black Horse course.

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