SEASIDE, Calif. — Three-time champion Mike Small shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday on the Black Horse Course to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the PGA Professional National Championship.
The 46-year-old Small, the golf coach at the University of Illinois, won the event in 2005, ’09 and ’10. He had seven birdies and a bogey and needed only 26 putts, one-putting 10 greens.
“I took advantage of the short holes today, which was huge,” said Small, who led Illinois to its fourth consecutive Big Ten title in May. “I birdied four of the short par 4s. That was the key for me. When the wedge was in my hand, I birdied those.”
Paul Scaletta, a PGA assistant professional at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., had a 67 at Black Horse. He eagled the 261-yard sixth hole, hitting a driver to 6 feet, and capped his round with a 15-foot birdie putt in the 18th.
“I drew the ball in and thought it would roll off the back,” Scaletta said about the eagle. “But it hit just in front and that knocked the ball down. It’s nice to be over at Bayonet for the next three days. As long as I hit some solid golf shots, I will do pretty well.”
Jim Estes, the PGA director of instruction at Olney (Md.) Golf Park, opened with a 4-under 68 on the Bayonet Course, the site of the final two rounds. Brian Gaffney, the PGA head professional at Rumson (N.J.) Country Club; Frank Bensel, a PGA assistant professional at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y.; and Matt Dobyns, PGA head professional at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y.; shot 68 at Black Horse.
The top 20 will earn spots in the PGA Championship in August at Kiawah Island.