In 2010, Brian Davis did something in the RBC Hetitage playoff that has earned him plaudits ever since. He hit his approach shot to 18 into the left hazard. Thankfully, the tide was out and his ball was playable. Although it had been marked as a hazard out of convention, the footing was firm and the scrub grasses his ball was near sparse.
So he tried to play it and did manage to get it out of the hazard, but in the process of making his backswing, he moved one of the twigs with his clubhead. Had it been attached to a growing thing, no penalty. But because it was detached, it was deemed a loose impediment and you cannot touch a loose impediment in a hazard. He called the penalty on himself. Two strokes, playoff over.
Yes, I’d like to do something else in this tournament, so I don’t get remembered just for that (laughter).
Well, he just might get his chance. He shot a nifty 6-under, 65 to take a 1-stroke lead.
One shot back and T2, are Kevin Streelman and Charley Hoffman.
Streelman finally shot himself into credibility with his first win in this year’s Tampa Bay Championship. He gave a wonderful, post-round interview that was filled with all sorts of transformational language that made it clear that he finally got his own greatness. And that helped him be who he needed to be in order to win: no longer a supplicant, but a player who had arrived.
His win got him into the Masters for the first time and it was quite a week. Coming to the resort town of Hilton Head for the Heritage presented a nice juxtaposition:
[At the Masters] you get pulled in all directions from so many sides, family, friends, neighbors and phone calls and tweets and text messages and everything. This week it’s just me and Courtney, Lee Williams and his wife, a little condo. It’s relaxing. It’s fun.
And it was particularly fun for him on Thursday; all the effort that he put into his short game for Augusta paid off here:
I think some of us, we put so much work into Augusta to get prepared for that, and some of us didn’t play as well as we liked. You know it’s going to pay off sooner or later. For me, I felt really comfortable on my short game, I spent a ton of time on that the last couple of weeks and my putting. If I can keep that going to the weekend, it would be good.
Hoffman stopped coming to Hilton Head because his brute strength didn’t work on this course. But he put it back on his schedule last year and finished T8:
I had zero success early here. I didn’t have the patience to play this golf course. Now I know which side of the fairways to hit it on, and now I can hit it on that side of the fairways sometimes. Sometimes it’s better to be in the rough. I learned this golf course, and know when you can miss it and get it up and down.
If you’re going to miss greens here, you’re going to have a hard time. That’s what I’ve learned throughout the years here.
He comes off a very nice T3 two weeks ago in San Antonio, so the fact that he’s playing well this week comes as no surprise.
And then we had two of the three star Aussies from the Masters. Adam Scott took the week off after his victory, but both Marc Leishman and Jason Day decided to play on. Each led the Masters at one time with Leishman hanging on to finish T4 and Day finishing 3rd by himself.
Day summed up what it was like for the two of them to be playing together after such strong performances:
I think we just want to get off to a good start. We’re coming off a good week from last week. Webb [Simpson, their third] missed the cut, but he’s always solid around here. We just want to come out here and play well. We’re coming off a couple of the best finishes that we’ve had this year, myself and Marc, we’re just running off confidence right now.
It’s a different feel this week. There’s not as much pressure, but I want to say that the confidence is running high in both of us, and we feel good about our game. We’re both hitting it well and the short game is tight.
Like I said before, when someone’s playing really well, they’re normally going to play well in bunches.
And beyond those kinds of comforts, Leishman talked about how playing with another Aussie invokes some of the comforts of home:
It’s just, I guess, some personality things that we can talk about some stuff from home or just don’t have to think about what we say. A lot of the words we use in Australia are different to what you use over here. I can say some stuff that I said to Jason today, I could say to you guys and you wouldn’t know what I said. It’s English [at its core].
This is a stellar leaderboard already. Johnson Wagner is also at 4-under with the Aussies and then there is a slew of real good players at 3-under: Bo Van Pelt, Pat Perez, Bill Haas, Carl Pettersson, Webb Simpson, Camilo Villegas, Gary Woodland, Tim Clark, Hunter Mahan and Ryo Ishikawa.
So nothing’s settled and with the wind expected to be up substantially on Friday, we should get some great displays of shot-making…because it’s the shot-makers who come to Hilton Head.