Breaking a 78-year-old course record held by the legendary Sam Snead, Alex Knoll fired an 8-under-par 62 over the Union League at Torresdale course to take a 6-stroke lead after one round of the 98th Philadelphia PGA Professional Championship.
Knoll, 34, of Glen Brook Golf Club in Stroudsburg, carded an eagle and seven birdies over the 6,500-yard layout in Northeast Philadelphia to better Snead’s record of 64 set at the 1941 Henry Hearst Invitational in 1941 over what was then called Torresdale-Frankford Country Club.
Knoll’s eagle came at the 490-yard, par-5 10th hole. His only bogey of the day came at the par-3 17th but he got the shot back with a birdie at No. 18.
Of the top 13 contestants in the 151-player field, Knoll was the only one to play the par-70 Union League course on the first day of the 54-hole event. The other 12 played at the 6,505-yard Riverton (N.J.) Country Club, where par is 71.
Two multiple past section champions, three-time winner Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford and double titlist Stu Ingraham of M-Golf, were joined by Brookside’s Dave Fields at 68. Fields did not have a bogey on his card, while Steinmetz and Ingraham each had five birdies and two bogeys.
Three-time champion Brian Kelly, of Bucknell, led a three-man group at 69 that included University of Delaware assistant coach Brandon Post and Dustin Wallis of York.
Defending champion Billy Stewart of the ACE Club, 2009 winner John Pillar of Woodloch Springs, and Aronimink’s John Bierkan each shot 70.
The competition will continue Wednesday with the second round at the Union League at Torresdale and Riverton courses. The field will be cut to the low 60 scores and ties after the round, with the final round set for Thursday at the Union League.