RUSNAK OPENS WITH 68; MOSS RIGHT BEHIND AT 69
Fast greens, tough pin placements and lush rough accompanied by what one player labeled as “an annoying breeze” challenged the field of 57 in the first round of the Northern Ohio PGA Professional Championship at Beechmont Country Club on Monday.
Ironically, the top two names on the leaderboard belonged to a pair of the Section’s senior members, Gary Rusnak and Rob Moss. They also were the top-two finishers last week in the Northern Ohio PGA Senior Professional Championship at Lakewood Country Club.
Rusnak, 58, and Moss, 52, were the lone players to break 70 over Beechmont’s 6,894 yards.
Rusnak, of Painesville and a PGA Teaching Professional at 1899 Golf, Cleveland East, birdied four of his first six holes and took the first-round lead with a 3-under 68 (32-36). Rusnak won last week’s Northern Ohio PGA Senior Professional Championship with a 7-under 135.
Moss, the Head Professional at Pepper Pike Country Club, was right behind with a 2-under 69 (34-35), highlighted by an eagle-3 on the 518-yard sixth hole. Moss, with 33 career victories, was second at Lakewood at 5-under 137.
The Mayfield-Sand Ridge Club PGA Head Professional Mark Evans, Windmill Golf Center PGA Teaching Professional Randy Dietz and Scott Pollack, Managing Partner of 1899 Golf, Cleveland East, shared third place at one-under 70 and five players owned a share of sixth place at even-par 71.
The top five finishers in this event will qualify for the 55th PGA Professional National Championship, to be played at the OMNI Barton Creek Courses in Austin, Texas, in April.
The field of 57 will be cut to the low one-third and ties following Tuesday’s second round.
Rusnak went two rounds of bogey-free golf last week but had his streak stopped at 45 holes on Monday when he fouled up the 182-yard ninth with a poor tee shot.
Still, he made the turn in 32 after making birdie putts of 15, 6, 8 and 5-feet. He reeled off five consecutive pars to start the back before making his fifth birdie of the day with a 20-foooter on the 172-yard 15th. His lead could have been bigger had he not bogeyed the closing 18th with an errant second shot that settled in a poor lie to the right of the green.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I did in the first round last week,” said Rusnak, who opened the Northern Ohio PGA Senior Professional Championship with a 66. “It got a little windy on the back nine today. The greens still had some moisture in them but they were still pretty fast. They can get faster if they dry out a little, but believe me, they don’t need to get any faster.”
Rusnak’s first six holes were a lesson in the short game. First hole, a wedge to 15 feet. Third hole, a 6-iron to six feet. The par-5 fifth hole, a gap wedge from 105 yards to eight feet. The par-5 sixth hole, another gap wedge from 105 yards to five feet.
Moss, seeking an unprecedented sixth victory in this event, 3-putted the first hole but evened the score on the 187-yard third hole when he drained an 8-foot downhiller.
“I just tapped it and it found the hole,” Moss said. “The greens were challenging. If you were on the wrong side you played defense all day.”
It was all offense for Moss on the 518-yard sixth. His drive left him 210 yards to the hole and 3-hybrid settled two feet from the hole for a rare kick-in eagle.
He recovered from an errant tee shot on the 540-yard 10th when he punched a 6-iron about 160 yards and knocked his third shot to six feet. Five straight pars followed before a birdie on the reachable 332-yard 16th. A nifty pitch to 12 inches set it up.
When asked if they would take three rounds in the 60s, Moss said, “Sure.”
Rusnak said, “Absolutely.”
There are 36 holes to play but no one in the field would disagree.
Play resumes Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
ROUND 1 RESULTS: Northern Ohio PGA
2021 NOPGA Professional Championship
Beechmont Country Club, Cleveland
Monday, August 23, 2021
1 Gary Rusnak 1899 Golf, CLE East 32-36–68 -3
2 Rob Moss Pepper Pike Club 34-35–69 -2
T3 Randy Dietz Windmill Golf Center 35-35–70 -1
T3 Mark Evans Mayfield SRC – Mayfield 34-36–70 -1
T3 Scott Pollack 1899 Golf, CLE East 34-36–70 -1
T6 Steve Bordner The Country Club 35-36–71 E
T6 Milton Carswell Stone Oak CC 34-37–71 E
T6 Adam Lewicki Portage 35-36–71 E
T6 Michael Quinteros Inverness Club 36-35–71 E
T6 Mark Sierak Barrington 38-33–71 E
T11 Drew Pierson Shaker Heights 36-36–72 +1
T11 Mike Stone Belmont CC 35-37–72 +1
T13 Justin Long Windmill Lakes GC 37-36–73 +2
T13 Steve Mulcahy Shawnee CC 35-38–73 +2
T15 Tom Atchison Salem GC 36-38–74 +3
T15 Darin de Lelys Westfield Group CC 37-37–74 +3
T15 Jon Jones Youngstown 36-38–74 +3
T15 Cory Kumpf Brookside 36-38–74 +3
T15 Gary Trivisonno PGA Of America Life Member 37-37–74 +3
T20 Tony Adcock Seven Hills CC 37-38–75 +4
T20 Mark Bixler Kirtland 39-36–75 +4
T20 Nathan Desens Inverness Club 37-38–75 +4
T20 Nick Gustin Erie Shores GC 37-38–75 +4
T20 Jaysen Hansen Beechmont 37-38–75 +4
T20 David Morgan Eagle Creek GC 38-37–75 +4
T20 Nick Paez GolfTEC – Cleveland West 37-38–75 +4
T20 Greg Smith Westbrook CC 36-39–75 +4
T20 Jim Troy Honma Golf USA 35-40–75 +4
T20 Tom Waitrovich Lakewood 37-38–75 +4
T30 Jim Karr Weymouth Club 36-40–76 +5
T30 William McKinley Canterbury 36-40–76 +5
T30 Joe Meglen GolfTEC-Stonebrook 37-39–76 +5
T30 Jordan Paolini Shaker Heights 38-38–76 +5
T30 Tim Perin Lakewood 36-40–76 +5
T35 Brian Boggs Fremont CC 40-37–77 +6
T35 Ryan Brawley Shaker Heights 41-36–77 +6
T35 Mitchell Camp Club Walden 38-39–77 +6
T35 Kevin Sullivan GolfTEC – Brecksville 39-38–77 +6
T39 David Dinan Windmill Golf Center 38-40–78 +7
T39 Kelcey Eberle Congress Lake 39-39–78 +7
T39 Tony Milam North Coast Jr Tour 38-40–78 +7
T39 Andy Santor The Country Club 38-40–78 +7
T43 Matthew Creech Mayfield SRC – Sand Ridge 39-40–79 +8
T43 Jason Nussbaum Congress Lake 35-44–79 +8
T45 Chad Kitzmiller Westfield Group CC 39-41–80 +9
T45 Trent Maxwell Windmill Golf Center 37-43–80 +9
T45 Nick Myers Highland Meadows GC 40-40–80 +9
T45 Steve Parker Portage 41-39–80 +9
T45 Adam Stinogle Westwood 45-35–80 +9
50 Mike Rankin Westbrook CC 40-41–81 +10
51 Daniel Terry Chippewa GC 40-42–82 +11
52 Collin McEndree Club Walden 40-43–83 +12
T53 Nick Orr Canterbury 41-43–84 +13
T53 Rob Smyser Fox Meadow Country 38-46–84 +13
T53 June Won Stone Ridge GC 42-42–84 +13
56 Chris Knevel Westwood 39-46–85 +14
57 Scott Galayde Windmill Golf Center 47-45–92 +21