Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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Laudien earns spot in PGA Tour event

Written by Bob Oliver on .

It came down to a putt between Bishop Egan High School grad Mike Laudien and 2002 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Champion Matt Gogel.

Laudien, now head professional at the Rotella Golf Club in New York, canned a 12-footer on the 3rd playoff hole to put the pressure on Gogel. The former PGA Tour winner missed his 8-footer, and Laudien secured the final spot in this week’s PGA Tour Buick Championship.

The Egan grad had carded a 2-under-par 70 at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Lyamn Orchards to get into the 6-man playoff for the final spot in the $4.4-million PGA Tour event which offers a a first place check for $774,000. Make the cut and you earn about $8,000.

“I’m ready,” exclaimed Laudien in a telephone conversation last night. “I didn’t have high expectations, I haven’t been playing all that well, but I had a nice day. It was windy and rainy and I maneuvered around the course well.”

The Buick Championship is Laudien’s 5th PGA Tour event. He qualified for this championship 3 other times, in 1992, 1998 and 2002 when it was known as the Greater Hartford Open. He also qualified for the 2000 Buick Classic at the Westchester (N.Y.) Country Club. Laudien has also competed in 6 Nationwide Tour events.

He practiced at the TPC at River Highlands yesterday, but today is playing the part of club professional when he tutors about 40 juniors who are taking part in his golf clinic at Rotella. At River Highland's he's averaged 75 in his Tour events.

“It will be fun working with the kids, but I have to admit I will be looking a little ahead toward Thursday and Friday,” said Laudien, who is paired with Vance Veazey and Jason Schultz in his opening two rounds. Should he make the 36-hole cut he could play over the weekend with the lights of Justin Leonard, Bob Tway, Paul Azinger, Stewart Cink, Justin Rose or the Delaware Valley’s Sean O’Hair.

Playing in his 1st Tour event 14 years ago was exciting, but with several under his belt he's experienced and knows what to expect when he steps between the ropes.

“It is always quite a thrill to enter the locker room and see the players you usually see on television,” said Laudien, who admits he will have a difficult time making the cut but is up for the challenge. “I can only go out and do what I can do. That, and make sure I enjoy the experience.”

Last Monday he beat the likes of Tour winners such as Gogel, Ken Green and Keith Clearwater for a spot in the field. That threesome has more than 10 PGA Tour wins to their credit. Starting tomorrow he’ll be teeing it up against a PGA Tour field.

But he remembers where he will be next week.

“More juniors, more outings and some lessons,” said Laudien with a laugh. “I know where my day job is.”

Still, for a while, he gets to play with the big boys.