Because Seattle’s Ryan Benzel has been on top, right behind and a fixture on the first page of the scoreboard at the PGA Professional National Championships the past half-decade, PGA of America officials asked him to attend the tournament’s media day in April.
And he came up with one conclusion about the French Lick Resort in Indiana: The winner could be over-par.
At the midway point of the 43rd national club professional tournament, not many of the 312 players are.
Benzel is one of the few, and after his 2-under-par 70 at the Pete Dye Course on Friday, he sits tied for third after two rounds – one stroke behind co-leaders Rob Moss and Sonny Skinner.
The final two rounds will be played at the Pete Dye Course.
“On this course,” Benzel said, “par means a lot.”
The former University of Idaho standout might have sidestepped a big number, too, Friday, at the par-3 16th when his tee shot hit the apron on the left front of the green and disappeared.
Benzel found that his ball had gone over a concrete rock wall, but stopped on the only patch of grass in the hazard.
So, he went down there and scooped it out – and ended up making bogey.
“I don’t know how that ball got down there. The way that shot sounded, it sounded like it hit the green. I was convinced it hit grass and bounced to the right and dribbled off onto the rocks,” Benzel said.
“I got a little lucky on that. … I got the club on it easy. The only question was if I could give myself a stance. I … put one foot on the rock, other one down low – sit on my knee, and I was perfectly level.”
On the next hole, Benzel ripped a 6-iron approach to the middle of the green, and sank a 16-foot birdie putt to rebound.