Ben Martin: Shriners Open 54-hole leader by two

Ben Martin goes into Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a 2-shot lead over yesterday’s co-leader, Russell Knox.

Martin’s first year on Tour was 2011 where he missed 13 of 25 cuts, made only $340,000 and went back down to the Tour for a little remedial work in 2012. He ended up needing another year in 2013. It was time well spent; he finished 2nd on the year and was back up on the big Tour again in 2014 and earned $1.5 million to keep is card.

And now here he is again with an attention grabbing 62 that included a bogey; but with 10 birdies, hardly anyone noticed. 

For his part, Knox shot a clean-card, 5-under 66 to go along with his 65, 67 start. Only having 27 putts was a big part of that. He did have two quick hooks off the tee on 15 and 16, so it required a little discipline on the 18th tee:

“Certainly made 18 a lot harder, I mean, after you’ve hit two quick hooks.  I wanted to maybe hit 3‑wood but I convinced myself, I’m like, no, listen, you’ve drove it great all week, just stand up there and hit a good one, and I kind of toe slapped it down there, but I’ll take it in the fairway every day.”

That was one of those situations where you believe in yourself more than you fear the situation you find yourself in. It makes you feel giddy when you get yourself through the moment. But even when it doesn’t work out, that can be a positive too; it makes it clear that you didn’t trust yourself and spurs you on to do so the next time. It’s an iterative process entirely dependent on your willingness to just stop being fearful and trust yourself.

Jimmy Walker shot up the leaderboard with his own 9-under round for a T3 with Andrew Svoboda (67). Las Vegas is world headquarters for his coach, Butch Harmon, and he got a couple of days to work with him on Monday and Wednesday:

“You know, just work at getting through the ball a little better.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s as hard as that, but it’s as simple as that.  It’s easy to say, hard to do kind of thing.  But felt good, and going to go hit a few balls after this and keep grinding.”

“It’s mostly corrective.  There’s long‑term stuff, goals down the line, that are hard for me to do just from years and years of doing it one way, and that’s not a big deal, but it’s about the process of continuing to try to make it easier, make it easier to repeat.”

Kevin Streelman had his own 8-under to slide into T5 with Brooks Koepka (64), Scott Piercy and Webb Simpson who both shot 67.

So given that it’s going to be in the high 80s on Sunday with that low desert humidity and the winds light and variable, it should be a really something if you want to see good old PGA Tour fireworks.

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