PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The pin placements aren’t the only thing that changes every day for professional golfers.
So does their confidence, their mood, their feel for the game, how they body feels, what’s happening in their personal life.
One day, you’re in the top 10 in the world rankings. The next, you can’t make a cut.
One day, it’s as simple as taking a few steps. The next, it’s like your shoes are tied together. Just ask Rickie Fowler.
The 2017 Honda Classic champion was ranked in the top 10 as recently as 2019. He enters this week’s Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens ranked a career-low 81st.
How much has Fowler’s game gone sideways? He has nine missed cuts and no top-10s in his last 21 starts. Fowler has thus been spending a lot of time on the Medalist’s range in Hobe Sound trying to find his mojo.
Jim Herman has recently experienced the other side of golf’s ups and downs. The 43-year-old was about to lose his playing status on the PGA Tour until he won last year’s Wyndham Championship – the Tour’s final regular-season event.
That unexpected victory enabled Herman to keep his PGA Tour membership, and once again make the 35-minute drive to PGA National this week for his only “home game” of the year.
Check the yardage book: PGA National’s Champion course
Herman led the 2015 Honda Classic with an opening 5-under 65, finishing a career-best T-7 at his local event. That helped him keep his PGA Tour card for the first time in his hard-fought career.
Then there’s Ken Duke. Five years ago, Duke shot one of the most amazing rounds in recent golf history, a 7-under 65 in wicked-bad conditions during Saturday’s third round of the Players Championship.
Duke’s scintillating round had many players wondering what course he had played. Sure, that’s an old golf line, but not when most of the players in the field are asking it.
Duke’s 65 was 10 ½ shots lower than the field average for the round, a record differential that still stands in golf’s fifth-most important tournament. He shot 72 the next day and finished tied for third.
“What I remember most is the fans,” Duke said on Tuesday. “I heard some players talk about how wonderful it is to have fans back (last week), and that’s what I remember the most about that day. It was a solid round that turned out to be really special under the conditions.”
Duke put the brakes on talk the Players should become a fifth major.
“I know people talk about how the Players should become a major. No, we have four majors and that’s the way it should be,” he said. “The Players is different. It’s our event. It’s where our headquarters are located. It’s for the players.”
At 52, Duke now makes his living on the PGA Tour Champions. He came close to winning his rookie season, but has yet to live up to the boasts from his Hall of Fame instructor Bob Toski that he would finish in the top 10 in almost every event on the 50-and-older circuit. (Duke has six top-10s in 36 career starts on the PGA Tour Champions.)
Yet Duke was among the 126 players who entered Monday’s Honda Classic qualifier to try to get another start in his local PGA Tour event. Duke knew he was playing against many players who are half his age, but that wasn’t his concern.
“It’s our local tournament and I’ve played there for a long time,” Duke said. “They’ve always done a wonderful job and they support the First Tee. I support the First Tee with my charity. I just wanted to try and participate in the tournament and support the First Tee any way I can.”
Duke shot a respectable 3-under 69 in the qualifier to miss the playoff for the final Honda Classic spot by three shots. He’ll have to watch this week’s tournament on TV instead of playing in it.
He has another goal this year that extends beyond winning his first PGA Tour Champions title. He wants to win a specific tournament.
“One way to get back to the Players is to win the Senior Players,” Duke said. “I’d love to do that.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/03/16/rickie-fowler-jim-herman-honda-classic/