It’s not like Phil Mickelson finishing in second place in the U.S. Open six times, but Hagerstown’s Dirk Schultz would like to get the monkey off his back soon when it comes to the PGA championship.
Schultz, the golf pro at Beaver Creek Country Club, and Jim Schouller, the head pro at Fountain Head Country Club, are men heading west today as 312 club professionals from across the United States begin to assemble in Bend, Oregon, for the 46th annual PGA Players National Championship June 23-26.
For the third time, Sunriver Resort is the host and the 72-hole tournament will be played between the Crosswater and Meadows courses.
Golfers will play 36 holes, 18 at each course, and the massive cut to 70 fortunate golfers will take place for the final 36, played on the Crosswater course. In the end, 20 players will have their names etched into the starters assignment book for the 95th PGA Championship Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Schultz makes his third trip to Sunriver and his eighth overall appearance in the PNC, having never broken through to gain entry into the PGA.
His closest shot came in 2009 in New Mexico when he needed a par to qualify but ended with a bogey on the 18th hole, finishing in 40th position.
He came close in 2001 at Sunriver with a 26th-place finish.
“I’ve got a lot of memories from the PNC,” Schultz said. “It’s one of the hardest cuts to ever try to make and then to qualify.”
Schultz takes with him to Oregon somewhat of a new vigor, after not playing up to his expectations early this year.
“A few days ago I would have said, ‘No way could I be in contention,’ but I’ve got a new shaft in my driver and am doing much better,” Schultz said.
Schouller has made several efforts getting into the PNC, but never cracked through until he qualified in August at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., for the 2013 event, as did Schultz.
“I’m super excited,” Schouller said. “(Schultz) has told me so much about Sunriver so I’m looking forward to it. I want to make the first cut and then get one of the 20 spots. Those are my goals.”
Schouller noted he’s had improved play lately, much of it due to his putting.
Crosswater plays to a par 72 covering 7,530 yards in the higher altitude while Meadows plays to 7,000.
Players from the PGA Middle Atlantic have won the previous two events at Sunriver. Chip Sullivan won in 2007 and Wayne DeFrancesco won in 2001.
The Golf Channel will have four days of television coverage.