Robert Garrigus knocked in a 56-foot putt on the 18th hole for eagle and a share of the third-round lead with Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The ball hopped up a few inches in the air before plopping in the cup and then Garrigus jumped with joy. His reaction was epic, as it should have been. He did one huge fist-pump and followed it with a deserving second.
It made me smile. Naturally, Garrigus got some slack after his Van-de-Veldean choke at Memphis last year (not to mention the excessive sweating). But during his visits to the press room this week, I’ve discovered he’s a very likable guy. Oh, he was also entertaining during the long drive challenge. He’s charming, gracious and funny. I wouldn’t mind seeing him win today at Kapalua.
Garrigus was able to overcome the embarrassing defeat in Memphis when he won the last event of the year, the Children’s Miracle Network. He seems just content on chalking up one win. Maybe he’s saying he’s OK if he doesn’t win every week. Regardless, he doesn’t feel pressure.
“Absolutely, there’s no, hey, I have to win this tournament. I’ve won one already. I’ve got a two-year exemption and that’s going to be free for me up tomorrow I feel great So it was really nice to get that going after bogey and a double. But it didn’t matter. I mean, like I said it’s a great place to be but I’m blessed to be in this tournament. So it’s a little easier to play.
So it’s going to be a lot of fun. I don’t have to win this tournament, but I’d really like to. It’s going to be in the back of my mind a little bit. But I’m going to go out and have fun with my caddie and try to bring the crowd in a little bit and thank the volunteers and see what happens.
Despite the crappy start, Garrigus was still talking rainbows and butterflies.
This was really, really funny. I was sitting on No. 3 and looking at Shoestring, and I’m like, “This is awesome. I’ve doubled the first hole and bogeyed the second hole and I could care less.” It was one of those fun things where it didn’t matter, because I knew we had some birdie holes coming up; and I knew my wedge game, like I said, is exactly where it needs to be. I hit wedge into a few feet there on 3 and then did it again on 4. You know, hit one close, pretty much every time I had it in my hand.
So it was really nice to get that going after bogey and a double. But it didn’t matter. I mean, like I said it’s a great place to be but I’m blessed to be in this tournament. So it’s a little easier to play.
Perspective is a telling quality. But my favorite part was the discussion about his drive on No. 18. I love bombing it down 18 and 17, as well. If you hit the slope on the right spot and the wind is down, then the ball goes a mile. Garrigus already hits it long so this is fun for him. When he reached 18, he had already planned to take his driver in high gear.
I annihilated my tee shot. I didn’t swing soft; I didn’t take it easy; I absolutely just killed it. It took off perfect and took that slope again at 230, adjusted to the flag, and hit 5-iron, pulled it a little bit but it was down that hill, and I can’t believe I made that putt.
That swing on 18 was 105. Everything else all day was about 85 to 90 because it was windy and I didn’t want to get the ball up in the air. I wanted to keep it low, so I kept a more controlled swing all day into that wind. Because a lot of them, into and a left-to-right wind, you catch it at all bad, it’s floating 30 or 40 yards to the right with that wind we had today. It was an 85, 90 percent day.
And on 18 I uncorked one and I just let it all golf I usually never see it up that high but it was teed up 3 1/2, four inches and swung as hard as I could and hit it perfect.
18 is going to be a really fun finishing hole to watch this afternoon. With the winds expected to blow like they did on Saturday in the Kona pattern, it should create an exciting day with lots of movement up and down the leaderboad.
Who’s your pick to win? Garrigus? Stricker? Byrd? Kuchar? McDowell? Etc.? Drop your thoughts below.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)