Dobyns takes 6-shot lead into final round at PGA Professional National

Matt Dobyns put himself in position on Tuesday to win the 45th PGA Professional National Championship. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

SEASIDE, Calif. – Matt Dobyns was at odds with himself about whether to compete in the 45th PGA Professional National Championship. There was an important Ladies Member-Guest event Tuesday at his home club. The first-year head professional did not want anyone to think he was skipping out.

Given a vote of confidence from Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., the 34-year-old Dobyns has been on a tear in his debut in the showcase event for PGA Professionals. He made a stunning tour of Bayonet Golf Course Tuesday afternoon, combining a hole-in-one on the 14th hole with holing out from a bunker at 18 for an eagle and a 3-under-par 69. Those highlight-reel gems helped him build a 54-hole total of 11-under-par 205 and a six-stroke cushion in the Championship.

“I didn’t have any goals coming here; I didn’t have time,” said Dobyns, whose most recent victory came in the 2011 Long Island Open. “I wasn’t sure I was going to come until the day before. The Ladies Member-Guest event today is a big event for me since I’ve been employed. I have never been in front before – not this far in front – and not in front of this many good players.”

Three-time PGA Professional National Champion Mike Small of Champaign, Ill., who finished with an even-par 72, was alone in second at 211 and like the rest of the field appeared to be looking uphill to Dobyns. Small had three-putted twice and came within two strokes of Dobyns midway through the round before slipping back.

“You can’t play defense in golf. He played great, made great shots and deserved to have a good round,” said Small, who owns seven top-10 finishes in eight previous appearances. “I know I have to hit the ball better. Matt’s going to have to help us out a little bit, but he sure is playing well right now.”

Kelly Mitchum of Southern Pines, N.C., was next at 212, after a 72, while Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., and Paul Scaletta of Jupiter, Fla., shared fourth at 214. Former National Champion Darrell Kestner of Glen Cove, N.Y., whom had been Dobyns’ boss for three seasons, led a group of five players at 215 that included Frank Bensel of Jupiter, Fla.; Chad Proehl of Urbandale, Iowa; Kevin Shields of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Corey Prugh of Spokane, Wash.

Dobyns paced himself through the front nine at Bayonet, making a bogey on the par-3 sixth hole before bouncing back with a birdie at 10. That set up his fireworks on the final four holes. He used a 7-iron on the 200-yard 14th for his eighth career ace and second in competition. The ball bounced off the right fringe and tracked to the hole. Though Dobyns went on to bogey the 15th, he remained a picture of calm.

“First of all an ace is not about skill, it’s about luck,” said Dobyns shrugging his shoulders. “I’m just trying to keep the ball on the green, and the ball bounces, and it goes into the hole. Sometime it looks like it’s going to go in, and it doesn’t, and this particular one did. I’m happy I made it, don’t get me wrong.

“I didn’t see it at all, and then I saw people waving their arms around and they said I won a (Club Car) golf cart. I don’t know how I’m going to get that back to New York.”

Dobyns saved another highlight moment for the 519-yard 18th hole, despite a tee shot that hugged the right first cut of fairway rough and with a cypress tree guarding the corner path to the green.

“I did not hit a great tee shot there, and it’s a hole that if I do hit a good tee shot, I have a middle iron into the green,” said Dobyns. “I hung it a little bit right. Rather than hold back, I tried to carve a 3-iron and somewhere near the green.” His approach found a left-hand greenside bunker.

“I faced a bunker shot similar to that on the practice area, and I didn’t feel too badly about it. I wasn’t uncomfortable there. If the ball doesn’t go in, it’s about 10 feet past. But the ball hit the pin dead center and I’ll take it.”

Dobyns said that he believed that he could sleep comfortably on a six-stroke lead.

“Every round I’ve had the same prerogative,” said Dobyns. “I am trying to make pars. It’s not a golf course where you can go out and shoot 64. You try to start out and try to make pars. That’s what I plan to do tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, I feel comfortable out here, and I hope that I don’t feel too uncomfortable tomorrow.”

45th PGA Professional National Championship

Bayonet Black Horse Golf Courses, Seaside, Calif.

Third-Round Scores

Matt Dobyns, Lake Success, N.Y.    68-68-69—205

Mike Small, Champaign, Ill.    66-73-72—211

Kelly Mitchum, Southern Pines, N.C.    69-71-72—212

Rod Perry, Port Orange, Fla.    72-71-71—214

Paul Scaletta, Jupiter, Fla.    67-72-75—214

Chad Proehl, Urbandale, Iowa    72-72-71—215

Kevin Shields, Pittsburgh, Pa.    74-70-71—215

Frank Bensel, Jupiter, Fla.    68-75-72—215

Darrell Kestner, Glen Cove, N.Y.    69-73-73—215

Corey Prugh, Spokane, Wash.    70-72-73—215

Doug Wade, Dayton, Ohio    73-75-68—216

Mark Brown, Glen Head, N.Y.    71-73-72—216

Bill Murchison, Canton, Ga.    73-74-70—217

Stuart Deane, Arlington, Texas    72-74-71—217

Robert McClellan, Butler, Pa.    73-72-72—217

Mitch Lowe, San Francisco, Calif.    72-72-73—217

Jeff Coston, Blaine, Wash.    71-72-74—217

Brian Gaffney, Rumson, N.J.    68-75-74—217

Bob Sowards, Dublin, Ohio    70-71-76—217

Stuart Smith, Reno, Nev.    71-69-77—217

Scott Hebert, Traverse City, Mich.    73-74-71—218

Chip Sullivan, Troutville, Va.    73-73-72—218

Marty Jertson, Phoenix, Ariz.    78-68-72—218

Michael Hopper, Phoenix, Ariz.    75-71-72—218

Kyle Owen, Marietta, Ga.    73-72-73—218

Danny Balin, Rockville, Md.    72-72-74—218

Alan Morin, Royal Palm Beach, Fla.    69-73-76—218

Brian Cairns, Walled Lake, Mich.    71-69-78—218

Michael Frye, Sedona, Ariz.    75-73-71—219

Dean Larsson, Frisco, Texas    73-74-72—219

Frank Esposito, Florham Park, N.J.    72-74-73—219

Ron Philo, Stowe, Vt.    73-72-74—219

Craig Stevens, Dallas, Ga.    73-72-74—219

Chris Moody, Provo, Utah    69-76-74—219

Jim Estes, Germantown, Md.    68-72-79—219

Rick Witt, Madison, Wis.    72-76-72—220

Jeffrey Cranford, La Quinta, Calif.    78-69-73—220

David Paeglow, DeKalb, Ill.    78-69-73—220

David Hutsell, Lutherville, Md.    72-74-74—220

Burke Cromer, Columbia, S.C.    73-73-74—220

Greg Lee, Athens, Ga.    76-70-74—220

Mark Mielke, East Norwich, N.Y.    72-74-74—220

David Quinn, Marlton, N.J.    74-71-75—220

Jason Schmuhl, Windsor, Calif.    72-72-76—220

Greg Bisconti, South Salem, N.Y.    75-73-73—221

Sean Dougherty, Overland Park, Kan.    72-76-73—221

Trent Rommann, Wichita, Kan.    73-75-73—221

Tom Harding, South Lyon, Mich.    74-74-73—221

Lonny Alexander, New Braunfels, Texas    78-69-74—221

Frank Dully, Salem, Mass.    73-74-74—221

Steven Gotsche, Great Bend, Kan.    71-73-77—221

Jeff Olson, Powell, Ohio    70-73-78—221

Casey Fowles, St. George, Utah    73-75-74—222

Brett Melton, Washington, Ind.    75-73-74—222

Kevin Hayashi, Hilo, Hawaii    77-71-74—222

Audie Johnson, Lebanon, Tenn.    75-72-75—222

Charles Frost, Pineville, N.C.    75-72-75—222

Tim Feenstra, Issaquah, Wash.    73-74-75—222

Scott Berliner, Delmar, N.Y.    72-73-77—222

Rick Lewallen, Kannapolis, N.C.    73-75-75—223

Dave Bahr, Cincinnati, Ohio    73-75-75—223

Ricky Arnett, Austin, Texas    75-73-75—223

John Seltzer, Ann Arbor, Mich.    73-75-75—223

Todd Camplin, Pinehurst, N.C.    73-74-76—223

Eric Dugas, Waikoloa, Hawaii    75-72-76—223

Troy Pare, Seekonk, Mass.    72-74-77—223

Brendon Post, Lincoln University, Pa.    71-75-77—223

JC Anderson, O’Fallon, Mo.    75-71-77—223

Rob Horak, Fairport, N.Y.    71-74-78—223

Luke Bennett, Bellingham, Wash.    76-72-76—224

Tim Straub, Huntersville, N.C.    77-71-76—224

Darin Fisher, Albia, Iowa    74-73-77—224

Ryan Kalista, Moodus, Conn.    76-72-77—225

Steve Hummel, Reno, Nev.    74-74-77—225

Jason Alexander, The Woodlands, Texas    72-75-78—225

Chris Black, Independence, Iowa    77-71-79—227

Charles Pasco, Beverly Hills, Mich.    70-77-84—231

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles