Darrell Kestner, of East Norwich, N.Y., staged a putting experiment at the 29th PGA Professional National Championship that may be one of the most remarkable turnabout performances in the history of the showcase event for PGA Professionals. Kestner rebounded from an opening 73 and switched to a crosshanded putting grip to find the winning touch on the PGA West greens in La Quinta, Calif.

Kestner, the 43-year-old PGA head professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., capped his rally by making a curling 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the Arnold Palmer Private Course, for a record-breaking 17-under-par 271. Kestner, whose previous best finish in nine attempts was a share of second place in 1994, broke the 72-hole scoring record of 272 set by 1968 Champion Howell Fraser. Kestner edged Dan Bateman, of Huntington Beach, Calif., by one stroke. Kestner became the first player in PGA of America history to win both the national PGA Assistant Professional Championship and the PGA Professional National Championship. He also is the only multiple winner of the PGA Assistant Professional Championship (1982, ’87). The Championship had the lowest cut (3-under-par 213) in its history, using three regulation-length courses.

The 29th PGA Professional National Championship was the final Championship to feature 360 players in the national finals. A new 72-hole format went into effect in 1997.