Alex Beach, Danny Balin pace field at PGA Pro Championship

Darren Carroll/PGA of America

Alex Beach, Danny Balin pace field at PGA Pro Championship

Professional

Alex Beach, Danny Balin pace field at PGA Pro Championship

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BLUFFTON, S.C. — There will be an air of familiarity in the final pairing of the third round at the 52nd PGA Professional Championship at Belfair on Tuesday.

That group includes 36-hole leader Alex Beach of Stamford, Conn., who shot a 3-under-par 68 on Monday to post a two-round total of 8-under-par 135, and Danny Balin of Irvington, N.Y., who trails by one after a second-round 66.

Beach and Balin not only both hail from the Metropolitan (New York City) PGA Section, but there’s a deeper connection.

SCORES: PGA Pro Championship

Several weeks ago, after Matt Dobyns, a two-time PGA Professional Championship winner, left Fresh Meadow Golf Club to take a new job as a head professional, Balin was hired as his replacement. Balin’s position as an assistant professional at Westchester Country Club in nearby Rye, N.Y., was then filled by Beach just two weeks ago.

“We’ve played a lot of golf together,” said Beach. “We’re good friends. It’s a motivation thing. He’s a great player and he’s had a lot of success. I’ve tried to achieve things to follow Danny, in his footsteps. … but I’m going to go out there and try to beat him.”

Matt Lohmeyer of Fort Worth, Texas, making his PGA Professional Championship debut, had a 4-under-par 68 on Belfair’s West Course to advance into third, three off the lead.

Danny Balin hits a tee shot during the second round of the 52nd PGA Professional Championship on April 29, 2019 in Bluffton, South Carolina. Photo: Hailey Garret/PGA of America

Beach’s second round was filled with highlights. He holed an 8-foot birdie putt after reaching the green of the East Course’s par-5 third in two, then made a 50-foot birdie at No. 8 and a 40-footer at the 13th.

“I hit good shots,” he said. “I played very conservatively, but I was fortunate today to make some putts. It was another good round. It was nice to go under par yesterday, and to come back and do it again, I think that’s big.”

Balin is writing an outstanding PGA Professional Championship career résumé. He’s had five previous starts and has finished in the top 20 each time, including back-to-back fourth-place showings in 2010 and ’11.

Perhaps not even Balin himself could have predicted another good week at Belfair.

Many club and teaching professionals in Northern climates have had little time to prepare for this year’s PGA Professional Championship, moved up in the calendar by two months, and Balin is no exception.

“None at all,” he answered when asked about the amount of practice he’s been able to manage. “I need to make sure I have the shop in line, have the staff in line. Last week I hit a couple of balls, probably played twice, but that’s about it.

“I don’t want to say this is a big surprise because I’ve been doing this for a while. I know how to prepare.”

Each of the top 20 finishers at Belfair earns a place at next month’s PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.

There are two cuts in the PGA Professional Championship.

Ashley Grier of Springfield, Pa., had a second-round 71 for a two-day total of 144, and Joanna Coe of Baltimore, Md. (74—145) also qualified for a third round.

But Monday’s cut to the low 90 and ties claimed two of the four women in the field. Missing the cut were Sherry Andonian of Centennial, Colo. (78—161) and Alexandra Braga of Denver, Colo. (85—165).

Because the women played a shorter course in their PGA Section championships and again at Belfair, they are ineligible to advance to the PGA Championship.

The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties after Tuesday’s third round.

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