By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
SUNRIVER, Ore. - On an impressive day of scoring at the Meadows Course in the first round of the 46th PGA Professional National Championship at Sunriver Resort, it seemed no one would be able to come close to early clubhouse leaders Rod Perry and Corey Prugh, who each fired course-record, 8-under 63s in the morning wave.
That is until Jeff Sorenson got out in the afternoon and went low late. Sorenson didn't reach the 8-under mark, but his 7-under 64 was stout nonetheless. Especially when you consider that he missed a 3 1/2-footer for birdie at No. 10 - his first hole of the day - and also recorded bogeys on Nos. 18 and 3.
"It was real important to get a low score here before heading over to Crosswater tomorrow because it plays completely different, said Sorenson. "Anything in the 60s out there is a great round, I think. Even 70 is a great round out there. Here at the Meadows, you've still got to golf your ball around, but it's a little bit shorter so you don't have to hit driver out here."
Sorenson, a PGA Teaching Professional at Columbia Golf Club in Minneapolis, Minn., made his PNC debut in 2011 in Hershey, Pa. He had a strong start there too, opening with a 6-under 65 and eventually tying for eighth to earn a spot in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Since then, he's competed in several national events, including the PGA Winter Series. With successes there, Sorenson said he finds himself much more comfortable on grander stages now.
"Hershey certainly helped and now that I've had success in those winter events, I know I can play nationally," he said.
Sorenson kick-started his round Sunday at the Meadows with an unlikely birdie on the 11th hole.
"I made a 25-footer for birdie and that kind of healed the wound from that short miss on 10," he said. "I made about a 35-footer on 16. My putts weren't real long on the back nine (his front nine). The birdie putts were all pretty short on that side."
It seems the biggest challenge for Sorenson - and the rest of the field at the Meadows on Sunday - was simply keeping dry. Rain, extremely heavy at times, was present through most of the day before finally letting up late.
For Sorenson, it was nothing new.
"We had a horrible Spring in Minnesota," said the 34-year-old. "It just rained all the time. Our last major - just a couple of weeks ago - was pouring rain on Sunday. I did adjust to it very well, so I think I learned from that a couple of weeks ago. You've just got to stick with it. It's great to have a good caddie like my brother Matt here. We did a pretty good job of keeping dry."
Based on the forecast for Monday - a 70 percent chance of rain - it looks as though they'll have to do a good job of keeping dry again.
The Crosswater Club, just a couple miles down the road from the Meadows, is hands down the more difficult of the two courses. Sorenson's solid start at the Meadows was important for that very reason - birdies just won't be as easy to come by.
"There are so many different ways to look at it," he said. "At the end of the day, you've got to play both courses, so I don't know if it's an advantage to play one first or not. At first, I thought it would be good to start over here at the Meadows, but then I thought, 'But if you don't start good over here then there's going to be pressure to go low over there.' Now that I got off to a good start, I guess it was an advantage.
"I came over here (Meadows) yesterday for a practice round figuring I'd play the Meadows for two days and then just recalibrate and change the mindset a little bit," Sorenson added. "I'm going to try and make birdies over at Crosswater, but it's obviously the more difficult of the two golf courses. Now I'm planning on three days over there."