TYNGSBORO -- Rich Berberian Jr., the Director of Instruction at Vesper Country Club, has become a familiar face at some of golf's major championships.
Berberian, 30, will play in one of the four majors for the fourth straight year.
In 2015 he played in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay near Seattle, in 2016 he competed in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey, and last summer he qualified for the PGA held at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.
Thursday morning, bright and early (7:55 a.m. Eastern time to be exact), Berberian will play in his third straight PGA, this one at Bellerive Country Club just outside St. Louis.
He qualified with a 12th-place finish at the annual PGA Professionals Championship in California in June. The top 20 finishers there join 136 touring pros at Bellerive, where Gary Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and Nick Price the '92 PGA. First prize will be close to $2 million.
Berberian got his first look at the 7,316-yard, par-70 brute on Monday and liked what he saw.
"The course is very fair, with a great mix of long and short holes," he said. "The greens are a little slower than expected right now but they should speed up for the tournament."
Missouri is suffering the same summer heat that we are in New England. The PGA will switch to a May date starting next year, a welcome relief to most players.
"The weather is very warm and with the rain and wet ground it feels like a sauna out there," said Berberian.
He wore shorts, like several other players, during his practice rounds.
Berberian, who lives in Hooksett, N.H., with his wife Morgan, took the Vesper job in April of last year. Prior to that he was head pro at Windham CC and Hoodkroft in Derry, N.H., where his father, Richard Sr., had been head professional for more than 30 years and where Rich learned the game as a youngster.
He isn't focused on the $2 million first prize, of course, just on possibly making the cut, which is the holy grail for the club pros each year.
"The competition is all you could hope for with Tiger in the field and the rest of the best players in the world here," said Berberian. "But the only player I need to keep an eye on is myself. My game operates on a day-to-day -- and even a hole-to-hole -- basis."
He's hoping the day-to-day includes Saturday and Sunday.