MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Suzy Whaley, you have company.
Whaley had been the only woman to make the cut at the PGA Professional National Championship when she finished tied for 64th in 2005, but 31-year-old Karen Paolozzi of Roswell, Ga., joined her in that small group of two on Monday at the Dunes Club.
Paolozzi, an assistant professional at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, shot a 4-under-par 32 on the back nine, completing a 1-under-par 71 and a two-day total of 2-over 146, three strokes inside the inaugural 90-player cutline. There will also be a 54-hole cut after the third round on Tuesday, to the low 70.
“The putter just got really hot on the back side,” said Paolozzi, who needed only 12 putts on her second nine. “(At the turn) I was struggling a little bit with the greens, but I knew I was hitting the ball pretty good.”
Paolozzi’s day turned around at the short par-4 10th. She flew the green with a 9-iron, and after taking relief from a television tower, she chipped in for birdie.
“When I saw the ball over the green I was like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But I hit a nice chip, chipped it in, and that turned it all around for me.”
She hit a 6-iron to 5 feet at the dogleg, par-4 11th, the hardest hole at the Dunes Club that has played more than half a stroke over par, rolled in a 12-foot birdie at No. 14 and drained a 20-foot birdie putt at 16.
“This is exactly what was goal was,” said Paolozzi, who passed 94 players Tuesday. “I wanted to come here and make the cut, play well. I was a little disappointed after yesterday, but I knew if I put in a solid round today, I had a chance. After the front nine I was thinking this might not be in the cards, but once the putter got hot on the back side, it just got to be a lot of fun.”
Each of the top 20 finishers from the PGA Professional National Championship earns a berth in the field at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in August, but Paolozzi is ineligible for that perk because she qualified for the PGA PNC while playing from a shorter yardage. She got into the Professional National Championship field when she finished tied for seventh at last year’s Northern Ohio PGA Section Championship.