Georgia Tech grad Roberto Castro is becoming more and more comfortable playing among the leaders of a PGA Tour event. Last week he scored a career-best second-place finish at the AT&T National.
Castro collected himself after nearly coming off the rails on Saturday. He bogeyed the second hole and double-bogeyed the third, before regaining his composure to shoot even par for the day. He shot a 69 the last day and wound up three shots behind winner Bill Haas.
“I was a little unsettled the first few holes on Saturday,” Castro said. “I sort of calmed down. I tried not to get down on myself. I felt like I could do it.”
Castro’s swing coach, Jeff Paton, flew up for the weekend and they had dinner together. Paton, the director of golf at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, is well known for his ever-positive attitude, which wasn’t lost to Castro.
Castro improved to 41st on the FedEx Cup points list with earnings of $1.186 million. He still has a chance to qualify for the British Open, but would likely need a top-three finish at this week’s John Deere Classic. He has qualified for the PGA Championship for the first time.
Last year was Castro’s first season on the PGA Tour. He wound up No. 100 on the FedEx Cup points list, with one top-10 and earnings of $755,095.
He spent time during the off-season working on ball striking with Paton.
“Seems like I’m hitting it better and better,” Castro said.
Skinner back in PGA: Sonny Skinner, the PGA instructor at River Pointe in Albany, is going back to the PGA Championship for the third time. Skinner earned a spot when he tied for ninth at the PGA Professional National Championship in Sunriver, Ore. The top 20 places qualified for the PGA Championship, to be played Aug. 5-11 at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.
“I certainly wanted to do it and it was in the forefront of my mind,” Skinner said. “I wasn’t out there playing one shot at a time. But I hung in there and stayed positive. I kept saying, ‘I’m overdue to make a putt’ or ‘I’m overdue to hit a good shot.’ I’m excited to be in the top 20 and to make it to Rochester.”
Bill Murchison of Canton, who qualified for the PGA a year ago, missed making the top 20 by one shot. Tim Weinhart of Duluth also made the cut.
On the tours: Duluth’s Stewart Cink had his best finish of the year, a fifth-place showing at the AT&T National. Cink closed with a 67, his best final-round score of the year, and moved up to 63rd on the FedEx Cup points list. … Looks like Paul Casey is on the way back. An assortment of injuries (wrist, foot, shoulder) and personal issues caused the popular Britisher’s ranking to plummet from No. 3 in the world to No. 169. His win last week at the Irish Open moved him up to No. 102. …
Colin Montgomerie made his debut on the Champions Tour and tied for ninth at the Senior Players Championship. The last of Montgomerie’s 31 wins on the European Tour came in 2007. … Former Georgia State star Steven Tiley, who now plays the European Tour, qualified for the British Open. Tiley won his qualifier in Scotland by three strokes.
Etc.: Diane Lim of Norcross was medalist at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship qualifier at Cartersville Country Club. Lim shot shot 74 and beat Annie Swords of Newnan and Megan Carter of Blackshear by one shot and advance to the championship July 22-27 at Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne, Ind. Bailey Tardy of Norcross and Rinko Mitsunaga of Roswell won a playoff for the final two spots, with Payton Schanen of Alpharetta and Savannah Goodman of Easley, S.C., the two alternates. …
Stephen Keppler, the director of golf at Marietta Country Club, will defend his title at the Championship at Berkeley Hills on Monday and Tuesday. … The Tour Championship will again provide complimentary admission during tournament week to all active duty, reserve, military retirees and dependents. A one-time $1 verification fee applies to those going through the system.