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Jim Deiters and Frank Esposito share first-round lead at Senior PGA PNC |

Jim Deiters and Frank Esposito share first-round lead at Senior PGA PNC

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Jim Deiters of Midland, Michigan, and Frank Esposito Jr. of Monroe Township, New Jersey, turned in textbook performances Thursday at PGA Golf Club, posting 8-under-par 64s to share the first-round lead in the 26th Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.

Mitchell Camp of Aurora, Ohio is third after opening with a 66, while Todd McCorkle of Birmingham, Alabama leads a trio of players at 67 that also includes Gary Trivisonno of Aurora, Ohio, and Mike Nokes of San Diego, California.


To return to our complete coverage of the 2014 Senior PNC, click here.

Defending Champion Gene Fieger of Naples, Florida, had a 69 and is tied for 15th.

Esposito, the PGA Head Professional at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, New Jersey, had a bogey-free round on the Ryder Course that featured eight birdies, including four straight to open his round.

Deiters, the PGA Head Professional at Midland Country Club, capitalized on some pre-Championship homework on the greens of the Ryder Course by taking 28 putts en route to nine birdies in his debut appearance in the Championship.

The twosome tied the first-round 18-hole record shared by Bob Ford (2007) and Roy Vucinich (2008).    

Esposito, 51, said that he was humbled playing this year against golf’s hierarchy, a tour of duty that covered three of golf’s most prestigious events – the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the U.S. Senior Open. He humbled the field Thursday. 

Esposito, the reigning New Jersey PGA Senior Player of the Year, began play on the 10th hole on the Ryder Course with birdies on his first four holes. He added birdies at 16 and 18 on his opening nine, before saving par from 12 feet at No. 2. He capped his round by hitting a wedge approach to 18 feet to the ninth green and making that putt.

“Those birdies on the first four holes, which came as I started feeling my way along, got me into the round,” said Esposito, who tied for third last April in his first Senior PGA Professional National Championship, also held at PGA Golf Club. “I started making putts and it was fun. I’ve got some length to get to the par-5s. It’s been quite a year. Playing in the Senior PGA Championship (where he finished T-39), the U.S. Senior Open and the PGA Championship, it makes you humble to see how good those guys are. You take those experiences and try to use them as a positive.”

It was a rewarding day for Deiters, who survived a five-hole Section playoff last July in Michigan to earn a berth in the Championship. Deiters, 50, said he had a flashback to a 10-birdie round of 60 that he posted 15 years ago.

“This brings back great memories,” said Deiters, who made his lone bogey on the par-4 ninth when he mishit a 125-yard approach that left him 10 yards short of the green. He then missed a five-foot par putt. “Coming from Michigan, putting on bent-grass greens, I struggled early. A couple people helped me out in practice and today I could see the line and had a feel for the grain.”

The 72-hole National Championship, which features 264 PGA Professionals who are at least 50 years of age and have qualified to compete in the Championship through one of the 41 PGA Sections, runs through Sunday.

The low 70 scorers and ties after Friday’s second round advance to the weekend’s final 36 holes on the Wanamaker Course.

The low 35 finishers in the Championship will earn a berth in the 76th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 21-24, 2015, at French Lick (Indiana) Resort.

The Senior PGA Professional National Championship features a $285,000 total purse.

 

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