Kestner, Starkjohann, Yokoi top leaderboard

Kestner, Starkjohann, Yokoi top leaderboard

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Darrell Kestner, Chris Starkjohann and Mickey Yokoi shot 6-under 66s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

The low 35 finishers will qualify for the 2010 Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club near Denver.

The 56-year-old Kestner, the golf director at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., won the 1996 PGA Professional National Championship, two PGA Assistant Championship titles and is a two-time Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year.

“I was first off this morning and so it was really great to have such a strong start,” said Kestner, who opened on PGA Golf Club’s Dye Course. “I three-putted my first hole and almost did again on the second, but went on to make seven birdies and just hit it really well all day.”

Starkjohann, from Encinitas, Calif., also is a two-time Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year. He had a bogey-free round on the Dye Course.

“I only had 23 putts today, which was extremely solid,” Starkjohann said. “If I missed the green I was able to get up and down and if I hit it within 20 feet I made it. I did not get into any real trouble.”

Yokoi, the associate head coach for Arizona State’s men’s golf team, was the second alternate from the Southwest PGA Section and received an invitation when past champion Ed Everett chose not to compete. Yokoi played the longer Wanamaker Course.

“I had no expectations coming into the championship,” Yokoi said. “I am just so happy to be here and hope to play well this weekend.”

Gary Trivisonno of Aurora, Ohio; David Arbuckle of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Paul Daniels of Port St. Lucie, Fla., shot 67s. Defending Champion Kirk Hanefeld, a PGA Life Member from Acton, Mass., had a 72 on the Wanamaker Course.

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