Sorenson gets another good shot at PGA

HERSHEY, Pa. – Jeff Sorenson can’t say he won’t know what to expect heading into the final two rounds of the 44th PGA National Professional Championship at Hershey Country Club.

At last year’s PNC, Sorenson was tied for fifth with 18 holes to play, well positioned to finish among the top 20 players who would earn berths into the PGA Championship. Despite his own contention that “I didn’t play that badly,” he was 5 over par after five holes en route to a final-round 79, which dropped him into a tie for 21st, one stroke shy of the number needed to get to Whistling Straits.

“That’s golf,” reasoned Sorenson, who was just two shots behind leader Sean Dougherty on Monday when he put the finishing touches on a 68 at Hershey C.C.’s West Course. “You could see (the PGA Championship) going by in front of your eyes, but at the same time, I was hitting good shots. They just weren’t getting rewarded very well.”

Through the first 36 holes at Hershey, the 32-year-old Sorenson, the teaching professional at Columbia Golf Club in Minneapolis, had 11 birdies despite hitting only five fairways each day; he’s atoned by hitting 31 greens in regulation.

“Obviously I’m playing well, so I guess my expectations are high,” he said, “but I felt like I left a few shots out there.”

Although missing out on last year’s PGA Championship obviously was a disappointment, Sorenson says he’s managed to take the experience and build on it.

“I tried to take the positives out of last year’s PNC and a couple of other tournaments I played in last fall,” he said. “At PGA Tour qualifying, I missed getting into the final stage by two shots. In previous years, I missed in the first stage and took it kind of hard, but then last year, I missed by two, but it kind of validated my thinking, like, ‘Hey, I can play at that level.’ So I’m trying to take a positive attitude and really believe in myself – just play my best.

“It would be nice to be like Rory McIlroy and just burst onto the scene and become a major champion at age 22, but I’m a guy who needs to build on each level and I think that’s what’s been happening in my career. This year I’m going to build on last year’s PNC.”

One part of that is not getting ahead of himself.

“I learned some stuff last year,” said Sorenson, a two-time winner of the Minnesota PGA.

“You’ve just to keep playing golf. You’ve got to act like you’re a kid: ‘Oh, that’s a pitching wedge to that pin?’ And hit it like you always do, not, ‘What does this mean?’ and keep thinking about everything else. Not that I was (last year), but I think, obviously, there were a couple of moments that crept into my mind when I was thinking about stuff.”

He’s had a year to deal with the experience from last year and, perhaps, just two more days until he can put that out of his mind for good.

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