Tiger Woods

Playing with Tiger Woods helped Chris Stroud

Chris Stroud, going into Sunday at the PGA Championship in contention, learned how to play Quail Hollow from Tiger Woods.

Chris Stroud is in the PGA Championship thanks to his recent victory, which was after a playoff at the Barracuda Championship.  It was his first PGA TOUR title in 290 attempts.

At the PGA, Stroud has made the most of the opportunity, and through three rounds is in second place, one shot behind Kevin Kisner.

Last week, a PGA TOUR victory changed his life, giving him for the first time in his pro career a two-year exemption, job security, and the ability to plan a schedule.  This week may change it again, should he go on to victory.

Strangely enough, he credited his good play to the Wells Fargo tournament in 2009 or 2010 – he couldn’t recall which – when he was paired with Tiger Woods.

He revealed this in an interview for pga.com 

According to the story, he had missed the cut at the Wells Fargo a time or two, and his impression was that the course was very difficult.

He is not certain which round it was– again his memory is fuzzy – when he was paired with Tiger Woods.

I remember on No. 4, which is now No. 3, I hit it down the middle of the fairway. I was trying to hit a draw to the pin. I hit it in the middle of the green, 3-putt and make bogey.

But Tiger Woods played the hole and the course differently.

“I watched Tiger,” Stroud continued.

He hits like a 6-iron, but he’s slicing it into there. I’m thinking why would you hit a fade to that pin. He missed the green, chipped it in from the left side.

Tiger’s secret? Work the ball uphill

Stroud was a little mystified.  Then he thought about it, looked at his yardage book, and realized Tiger was chipping straight uphill. That got Stroud attention.

For the rest of the round, I watched him. He puts the ball — he’s always uphill. If he’s chipping, his bunkers, he’s always uphill. A light bulb went off. I said you know what, I’ve got to do in a next year.

The next season, he did his best to work the ball so that he was always heading uphill.

If it was a right pin, normally I would cut it in there. But if you cut it and the slope is to the right, you are actually going away from the hole and it’s going to go off the green. I’m trying to draw it into the pin, which I normally wouldn’t. Watching him helped me realize my strategy was wrong for the golf course. I changed everything. I started working the ball a little bit more off the tee into the greens and I’ve played well ever since.

Stroud is not the only golfer to have learned from watching Woods.  Bubba Watson famously used to play as many practice rounds with Woods as he could.

“I begged him to let me play practice rounds with him and I wanted to watch him,
Watson has explained in the past to ESPN.

I learn by watching and listening, so I just watched. When we played practice rounds, I just watched how he did everything, how he went about it, so that’s where I learned. And, yeah, how would you not want to learn from the best player of our generation? He could be the best player of all time.

 

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The final round of the PGA Championship begins Sunday, August 18, at 8:05am. Chris Stroud and Kevin Kisner, the final group, tee off at 2:45pm. Follow this link for all final round pairings and tee times. TNT begins final round broadcast coverage at 11am and CBS takes over at 2pm. All times ET.