Albany's Skinner remains in hunt at Senior PGA

Albany golf pro Sonny Skinner sits tied for eighth at 2-under after two rounds of the Senior PGA Championship.

Albany golf pro Sonny Skinner sits tied for eighth at 2-under after two rounds of the Senior PGA Championship.

ST. LOUIS — Sonny Skinner woke up Friday as the golfing world's newest sensation.

Skinner, the head pro at River Pointe Golf Club, was featured the previous night on national highlight reels for chipping in from 30 feet and was only one shot off the lead heading into Friday's second round of the 74th Senior PGA Championship.

"I woke up (Friday) morning and my phone had 40 texts from people wanting to congratulate me," Skinner said during a telephone interview with The Herald on Friday. "I am tickled to death that I have that many friends who want to talk to me. And I tried to answer all of them (Friday)."

He didn't disappoint his fans on Friday either.

Skinner shot a 2-over 73 in his second round to stay in contention at Bellerive Golf Course, where he is tied for eighth place at 2-under and five shots behind leaders Russ Cochran and Kenny Perry heading into today's third round.

It was a second round to remember for Skinner — not only because he played well enough to stay in the Top 10 heading into the weekend of one of the Champions Tour's major championships, but because he was able to soak in Thursday's magic a little longer.

"It was pretty fun. I had a nice little crowd following me," Skinner said. "Everybody is very supportive and encouraging. All the players that I know that have played top-level golf and are on the Champions Tour, they are very encouraging to any of us (club pros) who are doing good.

"As far as the crowd goes, even though I noticed them I tried not to let them distract me. I'm a simple guy from a little country town. All I do is keep my head down and play."

Skinner is tied with fellow club pros Mark Mielke and Jeff Coston and would have entered today's round at 3-under if not for a bogey on No. 18 — just his sixth bogey of the tournament.

He tees off at 11:45 a.m. today with three-time Champions Tour major champion Fred Funk.

"I expect to have a calm mind (today) and be very relaxed," Skinner said. "I am just going to go out there and enjoy an awesome golf course."

Skinner, the only club pro to ever be named PGA of America Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year, birdied Nos. 5 and 17 on Friday and has eight birdies in his round so far. He finished as the low club pro in the Senior PGA in 2011 and knows he has a shot for a much bigger pay day this year.

"I need to hit the ball better," Skinner said. "I need to get more inside myself and get a better feel of what I am doing. I need to get my putts to the hole. I can't tell you how many putts I've left short. That's what I want to do (today). I just want to wake up and go play golf."