SUTTON, Mass. — Kirk Hanefeld, PGA (Salem CC) makes shooting 65 sound simple.
“I just kind of bunted it along, kept it in front of me, hit most fairways and made a bunch of putts,” he explained after his 7-under par performance in the opening round of the New England PGA Senior Championship at Blackstone National GC.
After eight birdies and just one bogey, Hanefeld, a two-time (2015, ‘18) NEPGA Senior Champion, will bring a four-stroke lead into Tuesday’s final round at Blackstone with a chance to add a third Senior Championship to his resume, but said his mindset heading into the final round won’t waver.
“Same thing. Hopefully I putt well again and it will be an easy round. If I don’t putt well it will be harder than it should be,” he said.
One thing that will be different for Hanefeld in Round 2 will be his familiarity with the course. Monday was his first time playing Blackstone National after getting a quick lay of the land on Sunday.
“I rode around late yesterday afternoon just to see where all the holes went, but I hadn’t played, today was the first time. I was going a little blind.”
Steven Hausmann, PGA (Amherst CC), who played with Hanefeld in Round 1, is tied for second at 3-under par after an eagle on the Par-5 18th hole on Monday. 2017 NEPGA Senior Champion John Hickson, PGA (Chequessett Yacht & CC), will join Hanefeld and Hausmann in the final group after shooting a 3-under par 69 to sit in a tie for second with Hausmann. Hickson made four birdies in Round 1 before his lone bogey on the 18th hole.
The 36-hole event will wrap up at Blackstone National on Tuesday. In addition to crowning the Section’s Senior Champion, five Professionals will earn exemptions into the PGA Senior Professional National Championship, which is scheduled for Oct. 15-18, 2020. As a two-time past National Senior PGA Professional Champion, Hanefeld is exempt into the field and will not count among the five who earn exemptions this week. Jeff Seavey, who qualified for the Senior PGA Championship before it was cancelled, is also exempt into the National Senior PGA Professional Championship.
The NEPGA Senior Championship, which is traditionally played in Vermont, was moved to Blackstone National GC due to COVID-19 restrictions in Vermont. Thank you to Blackstone National GC and PGA Professionals Matthew Stephens, Patrick Beahn and Robert Bruso for opening their facility to the Championship.
A big thank you also goes to tournament partners RJ Shepherd, Golf Channel, John Deere and the PGA TOUR for supporting the Championship.