Greenwich's Balin focused, has sights set on PGA Championship

Danny Balin is a firm believer that it’s time that golf pros get their moment in the sun. What better place to stand out than the PGA Championship, which gets underway today.

Competing in golf’s final major of the season for the third consecutive year, Balin, Greenwich resident and assistant golf pro at the Burning Tree Country Club, is more focused than ever at making a run during Sunday’s final round.

“It means a ton to be back here,” Balin said. “It’s something that I’ve worked for and worked towards. Once you get into the National Club Pro or the Professional Nationals Championships, that’s kind of the first goal of being a PGA member. Once that happens, your next goal is to be in that top group that gets into the PGA Championship. It’s a very exciting time knowing that I put in a lot of time and hard work into my game for a situation like this. Now it’s time to show the world that club pros aren’t that bad.”

Starting today at 12:40 p.m., Balin will tee off in the first round of the PGA Championships, held at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Golf Resort.

“I would like to play my game and be able to fully focus on my game,” Balin said. “I need to do all the things that I have been preparing to do and working on. I know that the results will just come if I could do all the right things and play the way I know how to play.”

Heading into this year’s PGA Championship, Balin said that there is quite a difference in the course compared to last year’s event in Atlanta.

“The Georgia course was a little more tree-lined and not as open, where the Kiawah course is more open because it’s right on the ocean,” Balin said. “However, you also have the wind factor here and the conditions. We are supposed to have some rain here during the week, so in wind and rain you really need to choose the right clubs, hit the ball in the right area and rely on that short game. I need to be confident that my short game is good enough to get up and down in some sticky situations.”

While the Ocean Course will challenge Balin, he is familiar with it, having played several rounds there. He is more familiar with the Kiawah course than the past two PGA Championship courses.

“I feel a little more comfortable here since I’ve been here before,” Balin said. “I know where to hit the ball and where not to hit it. I know where to miss it if I am going to miss it. I also know where to bail out when I need to. I am more familiar with this golf course more than the other two I played. I’ve spent more time here.”

Balin qualified for the PGA by finishing 15th with a 2-over par 290 in the 45th PGA Professional National Championships the last weekend in June. The top 20 golfers in the championship qualify for the PGA, golf’s fourth major of the season.

Back in 2010, Balin headed west and visited Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. for competition in his first PGA Championship. In two rounds, Balin finished the 7,507-yard, par 72 course 8 over par. He had five birdies and 20 pars during his two days on the course.

A year later Balin once again qualified for the PGA and traveled to the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. This time, he finished the 7,467-yard, par 70 course with two-day combined 20 over par 160.

From the moment last year’s PGA ended, Balin has been getting up early and working every chance he has on improving numerous aspects of his game.

“I’ve spent a little more time on my short game and getting more confident on my long game with my driver and my irons,” Balin said. “I am more and more comfortable with my swing. I’ve also been spending a lot more time putting around the green.”

While Balin has been working throughout the year on making his game stronger than ever, he’s also been improving his mental approach when it comes to the PGA.

“I’m training my mind to know that I can do whatever I put my mind to,” Balin said. “I can’t allow the other obstacles that occur during a week like this to get in the way. I am trying to downplay this as much as possible and treat it like it’s just another tournament that’s on my schedule for the year.”

 

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