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.