Merion's Bruns in running at club pros' national championship

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(Elaine Thompson/AP)

All Robby Bruns wanted, in his second career PGA Professional National Championship, was to get by the first two rounds at Philadelphia Cricket Club and then see what he could accomplish.

Not only did Bruns, an assistant pro at Merion, climb the leader board Tuesday after making the 36-hole cut, he also gave himself a chance to achieve something special - a berth in his first PGA Championship - over the final 18 holes.

The 25-year-old pro fired a 2-under-par 68 on the Wissahickon course for a 54-hole score of 3-over 215 and moved into position to make a run at a top-20 finish, which would get him in next month's PGA at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

He was in a tie for 37th place when he finished just after noon - well before a 1-hour, 33-minute delay imposed because of lightning in the area - but he rose to a tie for 21st place by the end of the day. He jumped 56 spots in the standings.

"It would be huge," Bruns said of getting into the PGA. "I learned a lot last year in the Professional National Championship. I missed the cut. I practiced a lot this year just to kind of get through to this point. I know I'm capable. I've just got to go out and stick with the plan and see what happens."

Ben Polland of Manhasset, N.Y., the 36-hole leader, finished with back-to-back bogeys for a 73, and fell back into a tie for the lead with Grant Sturgeon of Cave City, Ky., at 4-under 208.

Bruns is a seasonal assistant at Merion and spends his winter months at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla. He has employed Tim Becker, an assistant caddymaster at Merion, as his caddie and he is happy to have a contingent of Merion members following him.

They saw a good show Tuesday, one that included some clutch par-saving putts and four birdies. The last two birdies came at the 16th (5-foot putt) and 17th (15 feet). He found the bunker with his approach at No. 18 and ended with a bogey, but overall he was pleased.

"I got the putter rolling," he said. "That was the biggest thing more than anything"

The five Philadelphia Section PGA members who made the 36-hole cut all were part of the 78 players who qualified for the final round

Lancaster Country Club assistant Rusty Harbold followed his 67 on Monday with a 73 to finish at 6-over 218, the same total as Woodloch Springs' John Pillar, the Philadelphia Section PGA president, whose 74 was marred by a triple bogey at the short par-3 third.

Josh Rackley, assistant pro at Gulph Mills, fired a 74 for 219, and Wild Quail director of instruction John Lynch's 74 left him at 220.

Polland, 24, assistant pro at Deepdale Golf Club, began the day with a 4-stroke lead but gave up all of his advantage on the first four holes when he carded two bogeys and Sturgeon drained a pair of birdie putts.

Third-Round Leaders

(W-Wissahickon, par-70; M-Militia Hill, par-72)

Grant Sturgeon, Ky. . . . M70-W69-W69-208

Ben Polland, Manhasset, NY . . . M68-W67-W73-208

Matt Dobyns, Glen Head, NY . . . M72-W69-W68-209

Joe Leonard, Wisconsin .. . . M70-W70-W70-210

Brent Snyder, Hudson, Wis.. . . M72-W69-W70-211

Steven Young, Midland, Tex. . . M69-W71-W72-212

Shawn Warren, Maine. . . M68-W72-W72-212

Jeff Olson, Delaware, Ohio. . . W71-M72-W70-213


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