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Farren Leads PGA Club Pro Championship

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Sean Farren of Oakmont, Pa., shot a 4-under-par 68 to take a one-stroke lead after Thursday's opening round of the 35th PGA Club Professional Championship.
 
Tim Thelen of Richmond, Texas; Bruce Zabriski of Jupiter, Fla.; Frank Dobbs of Port St. Lucie, Fla., Gilmore of East Northport, N.Y.; Brian Sasada of Kahululi, Hawaii; and Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas, shared second place after posting 69s on a hot and humid afternoon at Valhalla Golf Club.
 
The 32-year-old Farren, a head professional at Totteridge Golf Club in Greensburgh, Pa., notched seven birdies against three bogeys despite the fact he was forced to switch putters after making the turn.
 
Farren, competing in his first Club Pro Championship, played Valhalla's front nine in 2-under 34 but noticed the head of his Stymec putter began to separate from the shaft. He found a PGA Rules official near the clubhouse and was told he could replace his putter since the equipment problem occurred within the normal course of play.
 
'I just feel fortunate that I had the extra putter here,' said Farren, who changed to an older Ping model. 'I made a couple of birdies early, which gave me confidence in my putting. I kept it on the green and was making my putts.
 
'I was just trying to be patient and take a couple of good shots. It's not an easy golf course, but it's not hard if you keep it on the fairway and on the green. I tried to do that and I did a pretty good job.'
 
Farren, also a member of the Oakmont Volunteer Fire Department, hit 10 of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and needed just 26 putts in round 1.
 
Thelen, the winner of the 2000 CPC at Oak Tree and runner-up last year at the Sunriver Resort, picked up sixth career hole-in-one and his second in competition when he aced the 210-yard par-3 third hole with a 4-iron.
 
Zabriski captured the 1997 championship at Pinehurst.
 
A total of 19 players in the 156-member field managed to break par in the showcase event for PGA professionals.
 
Defending champion Wayne DeFrancesco of Baltimore, Md., shot a 2-over 74, while Suzy Whaley of Farmington, Conn., the first woman to compete in the national CPC, struggled to an 80.
 
The field will be cut to the low 70 scorers and ties after Friday's round. The low 25 scorers after 72 holes earn a berth in the 84th PGA Championship, to be held August 15-18 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.