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LI pro Ben Polland solidly focused on his first PGA Championship

Ben Polland tees off on the sixth hole

Ben Polland tees off on the sixth hole during the final round of the New York State Open Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park - Black Course on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Just being here, playing in a major championship, is all that Ben Polland had hoped for and dreamed about. Having his golf clubs make the trip too is a bonus.

Polland, the assistant pro at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, is in the PGA Championship this week after a whirlwind tour that included a rush north to play in a Canadian PGA Tour event, then a quick return last week for the Metropolitan Professionals Championship in Connecticut. Unfortunately for him, his clubs did not make it from Point A to Point B.

"I had to play with a borrowed set," he said, adding that it was not the best arrangement. But he took it in stride, as he did the disappointment of losing the national club pro tournament last month on an excruciating final hole. Polland held a two-shot lead in the PGA Professional National Championship, but made double-bogey. He lost by a stroke to his friend Matt Dobyns, the former Deepdale assistant who is now the head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success.

Knowing that he had qualified for the PGA Championship -- as one of the top 20 in the club pros' event -- helped. So did the awareness that stuff like that happens.

"Are you kidding me? Knowing that you're going to play in a major championship, that's all I was really focused on a couple days after that," Polland said after playing a practice round with Dobyns at Whistling Straits Monday. "It's all about moving forward in this game because that's all you can do. No good comes from doing anything else.

"It didn't really seem like that big a deal at the time. You win tournaments, you lose tournaments. I know it happened kind of abruptly but it's not the biggest thing in the world," he said.

That is not so hard to say now, but Polland was gracious enough in the moments after that loss at Philadelphia Cricket Club to appear live on the Golf Channel telecast.

"They just asked if I wanted to do an interview. You can't really say no. You don't want to look like a jerk," he said.

Dobyns, who also is in the field this week after having also won the Met Professionals title last week, later admitted that he had to stop himself from going over and advising Polland against trying a risky shot on the 18th that day.

During a news conference at Whistling Straits, Dobyns said, "First of all, he's put it past him more than I ever could. He's 25 years old, going on 45 years old in my mind. He's very mature for his age. We have always had a very good relationship, so I think he's done with it. He's past it. He's moved on. I think that I've expressed to him and the people that are important in his life have also expressed to him that that is going to be a blip on his radar when he looks back at the end of his golf career."

This week could be a career builder for Polland. Although he has been here since Friday, he is determined to enjoy the ride, not overworking or overthinking the whole thing. "I know that when I'm playing well, I can shoot a good score on this course, I've done it already," he said. "I'm just looking forward to trying to do that when the lights are on."

Going for U.S. sweep

If a U.S. player wins this week, it will mark the first time since 1982 that Americans will have swept a season's four majors. Back then, Craig Stadler won the Masters, Tom Watson the U.S. and British Opens and Raymond Floyd the PGA. This year, Jordan Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Opens and Zach Johnson the British Open.

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