Chris Stroud is tied with Ryan Moore for the 54-hole lead at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur. He’s been close to a win before, but he’s never been able to push it across the line.
This guy is a good player. He turned pro in 2004 out of Lamar University with a degree in Management Information Systems. So a smart guy too.
Here’s why we know he’s a good player. Once he earned his card with a T16 at the 2006 Q-School, he never lost his card again. He had a typically rocky rookie year, but went back to Q-School and finished 3rd; very impressive. The same thing happened in 2008 and this time he won it back with T4; equally impressive. And from 2009 on, he cruised to this card without going back to Q-School.
But playing with all the good players on the Tour, it’s a little harder to be really dominant. Dominant? How about just being able to finish top 10? Here’s Stroud’s top 10 record since he got himself settled on the Tour. 2013 included his first top 3 with a P2 to Ken Duke at the Travelers in Hartford:
- 2007 – 2
- 2008 – 2
- 2009 – 2
- 2010 – 4
- 2011 – 2
- 2012 – 2
- 2013 – 4
So now here he is halfway around the world with a chance tomorrow. And he has a plan to finally break through for his first win. This is interesting because he goes into a level of detail that you rarely hear from a Tour player:
I’ve done a lot of thinking obviously the last few years, I’ve learned quite a bit playing on the PGA Tour. But my coach and I really have sat down, we sat down this last week and we talked hours about what do I need to do to win a golf tournament.
I think I really have figured it out, and I think I need to play one or two tournaments max in a row and just practice, practice, practice at home and put a lot of reps into the golf swing, get the golf swing a lot sharper than what it usually is.
I think in the past I’ve given myself an idea, hey, I need to go play three or four in a row and get golf going. That’s the case sometimes, but in my case right now, as sharp as my short game and my putting are, I just need to get the golf swing really sharp, and right now it worked.
The last four days in a row I must have hit 2,500 balls and three times that in reps. And I think that’s my recipe, and that’s what I used to do back in college when I played really well and I was really successful at that, only played a few tournaments a year, just reps, reps, reps, and do it like the best guys in the world, Tiger, Phil, Steve Stricker. They’re playing 13, 14, 15 events a year, I guess 15 to 18, and they’re coming prepared to win.
That’s what I want to do. I’ve tried everything else. I’m going to try this.
So now we get an opportunity to see if he wears himself out beating balls or, as planned, hits so many balls he finds his groove.
We also have Ryan Moore, of course, who has a way of laconically and methodically shooting low numbers.
One stroke back we have Gary Woodland whose length advantage gets limited a bit by choke points in the fairways and deep rough if you miss.
A good story is Thailand’s, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, tied with Woodland. He defeated a good field including major winners Charl Schwartzel and Padraig Harrington to win the 2013 Malaysian Open at this same course, the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. That victory also put him at the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
The Golf Channel has the broadcast at 11 PM, Eastern.