Former champion Ron Philo Jr. of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, grabbed the lead after the first round of the 52nd PGA Professional Championship on Sunday at Belfair Golf Club.
The 53-year-old Philo, who won the event in 2006, fired a 6-under-par 66 on Belfair’s West Course to take a one-shot lead over Alex Beach of Stamford, Connecticut, who opened with a 67 on the West Course.
Defending champion Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, shot 1-under-par 70 on the East Course. Former Bluffton resident Matt Bova of Charleston shot 3-over 75 on the West Course and was off early on the East Course for Monday’s second round.
The field of 312 golfers — all PGA Club Professionals — will be cut to the low 90 players and ties after Monday’s second round and to the low 70 and ties after Tuesday’s third round. After Wednesday’s final round, the top 20 players will earn invitations to the 101 PGA Championship to be played May 16-19 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York.
The event will be broadcast live on Golf Channel from 3-6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday.