University of Toledo men’s golf coach Jamie Broce had a fairly singular purpose when he decided to go through the schooling necessary to become a Class A PGA professional following three years on the Web.com Tour from 2005-07.
He wanted to become just the second NCAA Division I golf coach to win the PGA Professional National Championship, joining University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small, who won the championship in 2005, ’09 and ’10.
“The one reason I wanted to join the PGA was I wanted to win this tournament,” Broce said. “Mike Small is a great guy, a fantastic golf coach. … He’s kind of the pinnacle of where I’m at. This is the one I would like to be playing well at, for sure.”
Broce is in position to add his name to Small’s on the trophy through two rounds of the 47th PPNC at the Grande Dunes Resort Course and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.
Broce followed up a 4-under 68 at The Dunes Club with an even-par 72 Monday at Grande Dunes to take a one-stroke lead over Ryan Helminen of Menasha, Wis., at 4-under 140. Broce leads by two over the trio of Dustin Volk of Layton, Utah; Michael Block of Aliso Viego, Calif.; and Frank Esposito Jr. of Monroe, N.J. Three more players are tied for sixth at 1 under, and 10 players are tied for ninth at even-par 144.
Broce, 37, a Ball State alum and two-time Indiana Open champion in 2002-03, played professionally from 1999 to 2008. After retiring as a touring pro he spent four years as an assistant coach at Indiana University before being hired by Toledo, which recently completed its second season under Broce.
“I was probably playing better when I ended up quitting than I ever was, but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore,” Broce said. “I didn’t enjoy the travel that much. Even this week is tough. I’m such a competitor – I want to win, I want to play well – that it’s very taxing. You can get riled up pretty well.”
Broce’s wife, Darci, and children Peyton and Preston are with him this week, as the family made the trip a beach vacation. “I’m just trying to stay relaxed this week and have fun, and it’s good to have the family here to keep me loose,” he said.
Broce missed the cut last year in his first year of eligibility for the PPNC at Sunriver Resort in Oregon, as he struggled to judge distances with a lot of altitude changes. Though he doesn’t practice as much now as he did as an assistant coach, he believes his approach to the game has improved.
“The last year and a half I haven’t really practiced a whole lot, but it’s been fun and my mind has been a little better,” Broce said. “It helps to play a little bit better golf when your mind is right. I’m just trying to not put pressure on myself . . . and enjoy the opportunity.”
Broce made four of his five birdies Monday on the back nine at Grande Dunes, where he shot a 2-under 34 that included a wedge to 3 feet on the par-4 18th hole. He needed the strong finish to make up for a double bogey on the third hole, where he hooked a drive after clipping a tee in the ground on his backswing and was forced to take an unplayable lie.
“It’s one of those things where if you’re thinking clearly you stop,” Broce said. “It was one of those anxious tee balls that was dead into the wind and you really couldn’t miss right or left and I wanted to kill one down there, and I went ahead and tried to hit it and snapped it into the junk.”
Broce would like to add the PPNC championship to another notable golf accomplishment. He earned the 1998 Ben Hogan Award for the best combined scoring average and grade-point average in the country.
For the first time in tournament history, the PGA has introduced a second cut to the event in 2014. The field was cut to the low 90 scores plus ties after Monday’s second round, and will be cut to the traditional 70 and ties following Tuesday’s third round.
After Grande Dunes and The Dunes Club hosted 312 professionals in the first two rounds, The Dunes Club has the final two rounds exclusively.
It will give more players a chance to earn one of the 20 coveted spots in the PGA Championship Aug. 7-10 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Karen Paolozzi, an assistant pro at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta and just the third female to ever qualify for the PPNC, is among those who made the first cut. Paolozzi is tied for 31st after carding a 1-under 71 Monday at The Dunes Club, which is the lowest round ever shot by a female in the tournament.
The two previous females to play were Patricia Post of Maryland in 2007 and Suzy Whaley of Connecticut in both 2002 and ’05. Whaley also made the cut in 2005. Paolozzi is playing approximately 85 percent of the men’s yardage and is not eligible for the PGA Championship because of the distance discrepancy.
First round co-leaders Dave McNabb of Malvern, Pa., and Johan Kok of Brentwood, Tenn., a South Carolina alum, both shot rounds of 6-over 78 to fall back into a tie for 19th at 1-over 145. Defending champion Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., is tied for 31st at 2-over 146 after rounds of 72 and 74.
Six of the 10 players from the Carolinas PGA Section in the tournament made the cut, led by Greg Boyette of Awendaw in a tie for ninth at even-par 144. The others advancing to the third round are Rick Lewallen of Kannapolis, N.C., at 145; Jeffrey Peck of Charlotte, N.C., Kelly Mitchum of Southern Pines, N.C., and John Carter of Cashiers, N.C., at 147; and Cromer Burke of Columbia at 149.
Tee times Tuesday run from 7:10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Dunes Club.