Ryan Palmer only needed 21 putts on his way to a smooth eight-under 63 at TPC Boston to kick off a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Palmer also drained everything he looked at from inside 15 feet.
It wasn’t just his putting that was on, though — it was his driving, his irons, his wedges. Yep, the full package. Which is usually how you post a 63.
“It was one of my best ones of the year for sure,” said Palmer in his post-round presser. “To have 21 putts. The way I drove it. The way — my iron play, the short game when I needed it. I mean I don’t think I’ve ever had 21 putts in one round, and 15 1-putts. But it was good. I hit it close when I needed to. I made a few longer ones, too. Just a very calm, calm day out there.”
Palmer sensed a strong performance with the putter was coming as he’d been doing some work with his stance and alignment.
“I just was confident the way I’ve been putting. I knew if I hit a lot of good shots close I was going to make a few…Today was a good day on the other side of that. I’ve been putting good for a while. My short putting has been good. My lag putting has been better than it has been in the past.
“It’s been a matter of hitting the iron shots close, giving myself more chances and I was able to do that today. And I could see the lines. I kind of opened up my stance a little bit more and I’m able to see the line a lot more. And it’s been one of those — the last six months I’ve really felt my putting has been there, it’s a matter of ball-striking backing it up, as well.”
Palmer placed tied for fifth at the PGA Championship, but doesn’t per se feel like today’s show was a result of momentum from that strong finish.
“It’s been building all year, I keep telling myself something is going to happen,” he said. “I don’t know where or when. I felt it for a long time this year, since Hawaii. I came up short in the Honda, Humana, had chances at the Colonial and of course the PGA.
“But I’ve always felt there’s something there, my game has been in good shape. It was a matter of getting it all together. It was nice to get an early round like this in. Tomorrow is going to be a good day to back it up. But I felt for a while something is on the horizon, and maybe this week, maybe next week, who knows.”
Now is making the Ryder Cup a goal of Palmer’s? Well, of course. He finished 18th in the points standings and actually has not heard a peep from Captain Tom Watson, but that may change if he continues his strong play through the next three rounds, especially if he’s hoisting the trophy come Monday.
In lieu of the tragedy involving Lance Bennett’s wife, Angela, who passed away earlier this week, it should be pointed out how understanding and supportive Palmer has been. Bennett has been the longtime caddie for Matt Kuchar. Palmer’s caddie of 13 years and good friend James Edmondson was one of the guys who stayed back in Dallas to look after and support Lance. When James called Ryan to tell him the situation, there was never a question about what should be done.
“It was an easy (decision),” said Palmer, who has Brett Waldman on the bag this week. “When (James) said, I may need to stay home. I said, done. Don’t worry about it. We’re just playing golf. You stay home. I can handle it myself. (James) is back with his step-dad (who just had surgery to remove cancer from his kidney) and mom and to be there for Lance, as well, so it was a no-brainer.”
He’s right — it’s just golf.