SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – On a gusty afternoon that made the Cochise Course play like a lofty summit and club selection feel like a lottery, Frank Esposito Jr. held the lucky ticket.
The 2014 Champion from Old Bridge, New Jersey, carved a steady 3-under-par 69 to surge to the 54-hole lead in the 29th Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz. Esposito’s 8-under-par 208 is a stroke better than PGA Life Member Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California, who closed with a 70.
Sam Randolph, a PGA Director of Instruction at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, was two strokes back at 210 after a 70. Defending Champion Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah, slumped to a 76, and was joined at 211 by Walt Chapman of Knoxville, Tennessee (71); and Jim Schuman of Scottsdale, Arizona, (71). Overall, 72 players advanced after the second cut of 6-over-par 222.
The final 18 holes of the $300,000 Championship will be played Sunday on Cochise. The low 35 scorers earn a berth into the 79th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, May 22-27, 2018, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Tim Fleming, director of golf at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, is one shot inside the cut line for those top 35 spots heading into the final round. Fleming has shot rounds of 74-69-75 and is currently at 2-over, tied for that final spot going into today’s final round.
Jim Woodward of Oak Tree National missed the cut for the final round by a shot after rounds of 75-74-74.