SANTA ANA PUEBLO — Moving day turned out to be a long hauler Saturday for Alan Sorenson and Matt Schalk at the Senior PGA Professional Championship tournament for golfers 50 and older.
Sorenson of Bakersfield, California, leaped three spots to sit atop the leaderboard. His 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Twin Warriors Golf Club broke a four-way tie for first place and put him at 14-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round.
And playing partner Schalk also made a beeline for the top, moving up four spots to sit in second, one stroke back.
Both Schalk and Sorenson carded rounds of 6-under 66.
Schalk, of Erie, Colorado, is tied with opening-round leader David Hronek of Port Charlotte, Florida, and second-rounder leader Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah.
Native New Mexican Cameron Doan, now playing out of Dallas, fell to sixth at 9-under, while Jeff Roth of Farmington tied for 11th at 6-under. Santa Fe’s Brad Lardon struggled to a 74 and dropped to a tie for 14th at 5-under, and Albuquerque’s Steve Manning carded a 75 to fall into a tie for 33rd.
The players are vying for a first-place winner’s check of $26,000 and a total purse of $318,000. The original 256-man field had been whittled down to the low 90 players. The field will be further reduced to the low 72 players for Sunday’s wrap-up round at Twin Warriors.
The top 35 finishers earn an automatic berth in next spring’s Senior PGA Championship in Frisco, Texas.
Sorenson actually came into the tournament not playing his best golf, but he got a little help that most duffers might swear by — and at which pros might shake their heads.
But in golf, whatever works, he said.
“In the practice rounds, I was really struggling,” Sorenson said. “I couldn’t find my swing and it’s kind of been that way the last couple of weeks. I was really getting desperate.”
So, of course, he went online.
“I went on YouTube,” Sorenson said with a loud laugh. “But I found a position that kind of worked at the practice range before I went out for the first round. Used it and it’s been working ever since.”
He certainly didn’t play like he was using something he picked up on the Internet.
“In the third round, it’s about positioning,” Sorenson said. “Just trying to set yourself up for (Sunday). You’re not too concerned about a guy being one or two strokes ahead of you (Saturday). Sunday is when it really counts. But, because of the circumstances, some of us were kind of thinking we needed to go as low as we could (Saturday) just in case bad weather comes in.”
Schalk made his run despite missing some early chances to pick up some strokes.
“It was all about patience, just because I had a shorter birdie on (No. 2) that I missed, then a really short one on three that I missed and then another good one on four,” he said.
“I told myself, ‘You’re hitting good putts, just stay with it, they’re going to fall.’ Versus you start feeling like the hole is shrinking on you. I really think that was it. And then I hit one close and made it. So just staying patient.”
(Click here to see the scores.)