SUNRIVER, Ore. — To just about everyone, it’s been six years since the PGA Professional National Championship was last played at Sunriver Resort. But not to Chip Sullivan, who won that event back in 2007.
“It is a good feeling to be back here,” said Sullivan on Monday after his second-round 67 put him right in the mix at the 46th PGA Professional National Championship. “I feel like I have never left. I feel like I have the wave going.”
Through 36 holes, the 48-year-old Sullivan, the director of golf at Hanging Rock Golf Club in Salem, Va., is at 7-under 136, tied for second with Mark Sheftic, a teaching professional at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., the site of this year’s U.S. Open. They are one stroke behind Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla.
Corey Prugh of Spokane, Wash., was tied for the lead but double-bogeyed his final hole on Monday, the 18th at Crosswater Club that has played as the toughest hole for the first two days, to fall one behind Sullivan and Sheftic.
In his 2007 victory, Sullivan was 5 over after eight holes of his round at the Meadows Course. On Monday,
he was 4 under after No. 8 at the Meadows, a stretch that included an eagle-3 at the par-5, 540-yard 10th, his first hole of the day, with a pitch-in from over the right greenside bunker.
“It was a perfect chip,” said Sullivan, “right into the hole.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I’d like, but the putter saved me. I made a lot of two-putts and am really happy where I stand. I’m trying to relax and see if I can get the ball rolling tomorrow and make some more birdies.”
The 2007 PNC was played in near-perfect conditions — just the opposite of the chilly, rainy, often-dismal weather that has hit central Oregon.
“I’m glad the Meadows round is over,” said Sullivan. “I don’t want the round over in that rain and cold weather. It was really tough to judge my shots and distances. (The course) is softer due to the conditions we are facing, and you can throw more darts at your targets. Before, you would hit drives and they would roll off into the rough. Now, you throw it right into the fairway and they are sticking there. The same with your approach shots into the greens. It is playing longer and it is a little give and take. With this cold weather, you are not seeing the big difference in the high altitude.”
With the final two rounds scheduled for the Crosswater Club, Sullivan likes his position. In 2007, he posted a winning score that was 6 under — all on the Crosswater in the final two rounds.
“I felt I left a couple out there, coming down the stretch,” he said. “I wasn’t knocking down the pins by any means. I’ve been playing well at Crosswater and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next two days bring. I’m ready to come back to Crosswater.”
Sheftic, who has a second- and third-place finish among his three PNC starts, shot a bogey-free, 4-under 67 at the Meadows Course with 11 one-putts, including five in a row to end his round, and getting up and down for par each of the eight times he missed a green.