When last we left the adventures of Tim Petrovic…uh, yesterday, he had gotten into the RBC Canadian Open at the Royal Montreal Golf Club as the eighth alternate. The only problem with that is that his family had just started a week-long vacation on the Michigan shore line. He got the call Tuesday afternoon and he was out of there Wednesday morning.
He didn’t arrive until Wednesday afternoon, too late to get a practice round in, so he walked the back nine, but never even saw the front. And in true Cinderella-story fashion, he bolted out of the starting blocks with a 6-under 64 to tie for the lead with Michael Putnam, another Cinderella story of sorts. (Struggling to keep his card since he arrived on the Tour in 2007, he earned it again for this year by finishing as the leading money winner on the Web.com Tour.)
When very good rounds come from unsuspecting players like Petrovic of late, the conventional wisdom is that they will find it hard to match that performance the next day, the game of golf being what it is.
But that wasn’t what happened on Friday. Petrovic managed to shoot a tidy 4-under, 66 to remain tied for the lead, this time by two shots with Jim Furyk who went crazy with a 7-under, 63 matching the course record.
Surely Petrovic must have some wisdom he could impart to us on this unexpected result, so how exactly was he able to do it? Tell us, please, Tim?
“You know, I’m not sure. I just kind of got out there this morning and just tried not to do too much. Put the ball in play and hit the ball on the green. Sounds simple, but that kind of was my game plan.”
“I knew it was a little breezy, a little cooler, and it was going to be playing a little tougher. There was some par‑4s we were hitting a couple hybrids into, but I just tried to keep it simple. Had a few up‑and‑downs to keep the momentum going and I made one bogey, hit a bad tee shot on 18 [but bounced back with a birdie on 1], but that’s going to happen.
So given the hole that he’s dug for himself this year, did he see this coming? We find that he didn’t see it coming, but he could feel it coming. You can hit a lot of pretty looking shots that you know in your hands are just a little off. So when you begin to find the middle of the club face, and given that golf is a game of feel, that’s pretty much the best marker you can ask for.
“I have been hitting the ball really well for about the last three weeks. I’ve seen signs of some good rounds coming. I was just talking about it last week, and it’s always nice — yeah, I’m surprised — am I surprised? Maybe a little. But I’ve been playing pretty well, just haven’t had anything to show for it.”
Experienced players who trust their games don’t start second guessing themselves when the results are a little off. Going from Thursday’s strategy of hitting fairways and greens, he only hit half the fairways and only ten of the greens. Moreover, a lot of those misses ended up in bunkers. But he enjoyed that!
“It was playing a little tougher this morning. I didn’t drive it as well as I did yesterday for sure, but I scrambled around. I hit it in a few bunkers. The bunkers are probably the best bunker sand I’ve ever seen. It’s like you pray to be in the bunkers so you can just hit a bunker shot out of there. I had a few good saves [100%] to keep the momentum going and it wasn’t as sharp as yesterday, but I made a few par savers. But one bogey on 18 and then turned it around with a birdie on 1, which really helped kind of keep it going for me.”
One of the other drivers of Petrovic’s story is that he was on vacation with the family because he had just come off six straight weeks. It was his chance to get a little R&R, get his mind right for the next stretch. But with Tuesday’s call, that didn’t happen. But what it did do for him was put himself in an accepting mode, another key to playing steadily:
“Yeah, I felt great out there, emotionally. Physically I’m a little tired, mentally a little bit. I felt fine, that was the good part, and I think I just was really low key, didn’t really matter where I hit a shot, and I was just playing the next shot wherever it was, and I just kind of plotted along like that and kept giving myself chances.”
And how is the family doing without him? That was another piece of the equation that allowed him to play freely on Friday:
“I talked to them. They were happy. My kids weren’t happy when I left, but they’re a little happier now that I am playing well, so it’s okay.”
All’s right with the world, no better mindset when you’re trying to stay up there on the top rung.