Richland’s Aichele still in hunt

Tri-City HeraldJune 23, 2014 

The bad news for Richland's Jason Aichele on Monday was that he followed up Sunday's 1-under-par 71 with a 4-over-par 76 at the PGA Professional National Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The good news, though, is that Aichele made the cut, and he sits in a tie for 44th with a two-round total 147 -- +3.

If he can finish the tournament among the top 20, Aichele -- an assistant pro at Meadow Springs Country Club -- would qualify for the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August in Louisville, Ky.

On Monday, he played the Dunes Beach & Golf Club.

"It was a little tough today," said Aichele. "This course is tougher; it's longer and the fairways are a lot narrower. You have to hit a lot of long irons. And the greens are firmer.

"And that Bermuda grass we talked about the other day? That grass got me, it jumped up and got me, and my ball went in the water."

Still, Aichele feels he's only taken three bad swings in the two rounds.

"Three bad swings, we're talking about six shots," he said. "But three bad swings is going to affect me more here than if I was playing at home."

Aichele opened his round with a birdie on the first hole. But he also had five bogeys and one double bogey. He countered that with two more birdies.

"I ran in a 40-foot putt for birdie on the first hole," he said. "But I got a little timid on the back side. I left all my putts short. I've got to be more aggressive putting."

Aichele says the strength of his game is course management first, then chipping and putting.

With the final two rounds at Dunes Beach, that plays into his game.

"I need to make up a few shots," he said. "This is not a course you can be aggresive on. You've got to be really patient, hit the fairways and the greens."

Aichele said the two players he was paired with the first two rounds easily outdrove him off the tee. But they both got in trouble and neither made the cut.

"I've been pretty patient all week, kind of managing course all week," he said. "It's more about positioning, keeping and staying patient. And hopefully stay away from those double bogeys."

Aichele also said he must have gotten some TV time on The Golf Channel on Monday, as his phone blew up with messages from friends back in the Tri-Cities.

And he also got some text messages from PGA Tour professional David Hearn, who was also a college buddy and teammate at the University of Wyoming.

"He reminded me to make sure you play it forward and not backwards," he said. "Remember to play looser and not harder."

In other words, forget about what he just did. Worry about the next hole.

Hearn also gave Aichele some extra motivation.

"He said he'd rent the house in Louisville if I made it to the PGA," said Aichele.

The top 90 today advance to the final round on Wednesday, and the top 70 earn paychecks.

University of Toledo coach Jamie Broce took the second-round lead in windy conditions. He has a 4-under 140 total.

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