POCASSET, Mass. – Four birdies and an eagle propelled John Paesani, PGA (Bay Club at Mattapoisett) to the top of the leaderboard mid-way through the New England PGA National Car Rental Assistants Championship at Pocasset Golf Club on Monday.
Paesani played Pocasset’s four par-5s 4-under par, with birdies on the first and ninth, and an eagle on the 17th.
“I hit a big drive up the right and I had 235 to the pin and I hit a 5-wood to about four feet and made it,” Paesani said of his late eagle. “It was lucky, you’re not really looking to make three there. That’s usually a three-shot hole for me.”
Paesani offset bogeys on the 2nd and 15th holes with birdies on the Par-3 sixth and par-4 13th to post a round of 4-under par 68 and finish one stroke ahead of Zac Temple, PGA (Hanover CC) and Shawn Warren, PGA (Falmouth CC), who each posted 3-under par 69.
“I played really solid, I was in play all day,” Paesani said. “I could have putted a little better but it was a good ball-striking day.”
Temple overcame three bogeys with a six-birdie performance to post 69. His final bogey came on the 11th hole, but it was sandwiched by birdies on the 10th and 12th, and he added another birdie on 17.
“I made a couple unexpected birdies, which was good,” Temple said. “I kept hitting it in the right places and it was pretty stress free for the most part, which is always good to have those types of rounds.”
Warren, the 2011, ’16 and ’17 Assistants Champion, made just one bogey and carded birdies on the seventh and 12th, and added an eagle on 17 to shoot a 69 of his own.
“The whole entire round I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, I kept it in front of me,” he said. “I didn’t know the golf course so it was more or less just trying to play safe and conservative. If I continue to hit the ball like I did today, knowing the greens a little bit better, as long as I play better than today I should be in good position.”
Paesani, Temple and Warren will play in the final group in the final round on Tuesday.
In all, 13 players posted rounds of even-par or better. Liam Friedman, PGA (Nashawtuc CC), Peter Weatherby, PGA (Ekwanok CC) and Sean Fellows, PGA (Abenaqui) shot rounds of 2-under par 70 and will play in the penultimate group on Tuesday, while Greg Kelly, PGA (Myopia Hunt Club), Seul-Ki Park, PGA (Winchester CC) and Jeff Seavey shot 1-under par 71.
The top six finishers will qualify for the National Car Rental PGA Assistants Championship, Nov. 14-17 at the PGA Golf Club, Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla., while the next four finishers will gain alternate status.
The Assistants Championship is presented by National Car Rental and supported by Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO, John Deere, Golf Advisor, Vineyard Vines, and the PGA TOUR. A special thank you goes to Pocasset GC head PGA Professional Jeff Halunen for welcoming nearly 90 assistants and associates from the New England Section to Pocasset Golf Club.