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LI’s Ben Polland shoots 72 on his birthday in PGA Championship

Ben Polland tees off on the first hole

Ben Polland tees off on the first hole during the second round of the New York State Open Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park - Black Course on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Ben Polland had a simple celebration in mind for his 26th birthday Thursday: “Eat, sleep and come back and do this all over again,” said the assistant pro from Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset.

If he has another day like Thursday on the course, he probably will make the cut. Polland overcame a double-bogey 6 on the first hole and shot 2-over-par 72 in the first round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club.

“The rest of the day, we kind of just hung in there, took advantage of a few opportunities and made some great shots,” he said, mentioning an up-and-down par 4 on 15 and birdie 2 on 16. “We’re trying to play the best we can, and whatever happens from there, I’m fine with that as long as I know I’ve tried my hardest.”

He is mindful of the fact the last time the PGA was at Baltusrol in 2005, his boss at Deepdale, Darrell Kestner, made the cut.

Dobyns aiming to make the cut

Matt Dobyns, head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, shot 3-over 73 and is aiming for par or better Friday. He has the game to do it, having made the cut at three PGA Tour events this year. He would like to do it in a major. “And once you make the cut,” he said, “all the pressure is gone. Who knows what can happen?”

Brown hits first shot down middle

Mark Brown, head pro at Tam O’Shanter in Brookville, hit the first shot of the championship at 7 a.m. “I set my clock for 4:30 and I think I was up at 3:30. I was ready to go,” he said after shooting 5-over-par 75. “I wasn’t really nervous, though, because my driving iron is my favorite club in bag.” He hit it right down the middle.

Labritz is low club pro

One week after he won the New York State Open at Bethpage Black, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor in Westchester shot 1-over 71 and was low club pro. “I’m comfortable out there. I don’t get freaked out, and I probably had one of the greatest pairings, with Gary Woodland and Ryan Palmer. Two true gentlemen,” he said. Labritz is not preoccupied with being low club pro. “We’re all playing against these guys,” he said, referring to the tour pros, adding that he wants to get into the top 15 at the PGA.


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