Champlin Park grad hopes to contend at Oak Hill
The check was made out for $34,000, and it doubled that of any Jeff Sorensen had ever received for his play on a golf course.
That was cool, no doubt.
But by earning that payday with a third place finish in the PGA Professional National Championship last month at Sunny River Resort in Oregon, he’ll now have a chance to play for part of the $8 million up for grabs next week at the PGA Championship.
Sorensen is in the field for a second time, and he’ll be teeing it up at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y. sometime Thursday, Aug. 8 with a little more know-how in the bag.
“I expect pretty much everything will be easier this time around,” said Sorensen, who graduated from Champlin Park High School and now takes up residence in Blaine while working as an instructor at the Minneapolis Golf Academy housed at Columbia Golf Course.
“I know I will be more comfortable this time,” he continued, “and I think I have a better approach as far as finding a way to be in contention. It will be a little easier mentally as well, having gone through it before.”
In other words, if Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson passes by, so be it.
They are, after all, on the other team.
Sorensen admitted any star-struck emotions he might have experienced passed pretty quickly when he made his PGA Championship debut at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011.
The golf course ate him up though, as he missed the cut following rounds of 75 and then 83.
He qualified for that tournament after placing eighth in the 2011 PGA Progressional National Championship.
This year, after placing third in the same tournament, he has seen the type of improvements in his game that could lead to a surprise surge at Oak Hill next week.
“My game has taken another step up,” Sorensen said. “I am hitting my driver really well. I have usually drove the ball well, but I just have a little bit different mindset with my game, and that club has really been working for me, and I am making some putts. That makes it easy to be a little more confident, which I am.”
Confidence will be a must, especially after the set-ups the players experienced in both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship earlier his summer.
Merion Golf Club hosted the U.S. Open over Father’s Day weekend, and needed hay bail trucks to come in and help clear the rough out after the tournament.
The rough at Murifield during The Open Championship was slightly more forgiving, though the greens rivaled a sidewalk in terms of slickness.
“I watched parts of both tournaments on television, and yeah, they both looked really hard,” Sorensen said. “It will be interesting to see how they set up Oak Hill. I have heard it is an extremely difficult golf course to begin with. It is probably not as hard as Merion, but it is one of the best courses in the country, so it should be interesting. The PGA sometimes is a little bit less harsh. I’ll know more when I get out there.”
Sorensen was scheduled to depart for New York Sunday, Aug. 4. He’ll get in practice rounds at Oak Hill Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The tournament begins Thursday.
“And hopefully I am not coming home until later the next Sunday,” Sorensen said. “I’d like to go out and make the cut to start with, but also to be in contention. My game is in a good place. I guess I’ll find out how good [next] week.”