By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
TPC Blue Monster last week, the Copperhead Course this week. The past two events of the “Florida Swing” on the PGA TOUR have had the competitors testing their skills on golf courses with reptilian leanings. Both venues certainly have a fair amount of bite but the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort is perennially more vicious thanks to a stretch of the three homeward holes known as the “Snake Pit.”
At 460 yards, No. 16 (The Moccasin) is a bruiser of a dogleg-right par 4. It is flanked by trees on the left and a water hazard on the right that stretches all the way to the green. Sneak past No. 16 unscathed and an uphill 215-yard par 3 (The Rattler) with a narrow green surrounded by deep bunkers awaits golfers. After navigating The Rattler safely, competitors are faced with the tough par-4 18th (The Copperhead). A tight, uphill hole with an unforgiving green, No. 18 measures 445 yards and is as daunting a closing hole as any on TOUR.
So to win the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, the contenders not only have to outwit and outplay their competitors, they have to survive the gauntlet that the Snake Pit presents. Its challenge is best qualified by 2011 champion, Gary Woodland: “If you’re two back and have signed your scorecard and the leaders are still out there, you’re definitely hanging around to see what happens.”
After posting a 63 and an 8 under total for the championship, Boo Weekley had to hang around to see how the leaders would navigate the Snake Pit and I am sure that he liked his chances. All manner of challengers came up short but in the end Kevin Streelman played the Snake Pit in 1 under and in doing so he doubled his one-stroke lead and recorded his first win on the PGA TOUR.
So what can we learn from Streelman’s trip to the winner’s circle at Innisbrook? In my opinion, there are a few things and once again, proficient putting is one of them -- Streelman ranked third in the all-important strokes gained-putting statistic. So go and work on your putting.
Secondly, you must keep a positive attitude and never give up no matter the circumstances. In 2007, Streelman was battling the odds at the first stage of q-school. For all intents and purposes, with about six holes to play, it looked as if he was going to miss advancing to the second stage. Well, we all know that in golf things can change in an instant -- such is the nature of our great game. All of a sudden the momentum swung and Streelman birdied four of his last five holes to qualify. Now, six short years later he is a PGA TOUR champion. Oftentimes, it appears as if the odds are stacked against you and failure is imminent. At that time, remind yourself to stick to your guns, stay positive and keep swinging with conviction and self-belief as you never know when the tide can turn. As the great Jim Valvano once said: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”
Thirdly, it is crucial to trust yourself and your game when the chips are down. Streelman hit one of the shots of the tournament when he “held” a faded 5-iron up against the right-to-left breeze on the par-3 13th hole. The super-gutsy (the hole was cut close to the water on the right of the green) and impressive shot was one that Streelman had been working on and by his own admission his trust and belief in the things he and his coach were working on were key to him attempting and pulling off the shot. For the record, the iron shot translated into a birdie 2, which served as a platform to him closing out the win.
So learn from the likeable Duke graduate. … Always stay positive, never give up and trust your technique. After all, what good is it to work hard at something and then not trust it and attempt it under pressure? As Streelman’s coach, Darren, said to him: “When you pull it off on Sunday it will be a good shot.”
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
Check out the shots of the week from the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank and the Toshiba Classic, featuring Luke Donald, Mark O'Meara, Dicky Pride, Kevin Streelman and Webb Simpson.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Many will point to Kevin Streelman’s birdie on the 17th hole as the most important shot of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank but I think the key stroke occurred much earlier.
Streelman hit the best shot of the day into the 13th hole. The par 3 was playing 194 yards with the hole cut 30 paces onto the green and just four from the right side. Streelman called it a perfect number for his 5-iron. He hit a high cut and squeezed the shot between the flagstick and the edge of the green, just 6 feet from the cup.
Many thought he had pushed the approach and the mistake turned out perfectly but Streelman insisted he had been practicing that exact shot and had the confidence to fire at the hole despite a bunker and water on that right-hand side. Streelman made the birdie and played the remaining five holes with the confidence he could pull off shots when needed.
Greens speed: The entire day was overcast with some late rain showers and it made a huge difference in the speed of the greens. The putting surfaces remained much more receptive than we had seen the previous three days. Golf balls that had been landing and bouncing over the greens, were now creating ball marks and spinning. It made a huge difference in the way players were able to attack the course.
Fishing: Boo Weekley had to change plans. He had a 10:58 tee time and planned to drive to Orlando following his round to get in some fishing. All those plans changed when he shot an 8-under 63. Weekley said his goal at the start of the round was to shoot 2 under on each nine. He doubled that total and patiently waited as contender after contender failed to beat his total. It wasn’t until Streelman hit the 18th green with a two-shot lead that Weekley conceded it was safe to leave the grounds. Several fish are probably swimming happily in Orlando and grateful for Weekley’s good play.
Adjustment: Greg Chalmers had been hitting the ball beautifully this year but his putting was frustrating. On Wednesday, the Aussie discovered he had been standing a little to close to the golf ball. He backed up a little bit and the putter started swinging more easily and releasing.
Thursday was an adjustment period with 30 putts but in each of the next three rounds, Chalmers had just 25 putts. His 105 total was the fewest number of putts in the tournament. His short game was also sharp as Chalmers ranked first in scrambling. He parlayed that chipping and putting into a fourth-place finish.
Consistent: Streelman was tied for 70th place after an opening-round 73. He reasoned he was playing well and tried to remain patient during a second-round 69. He made the cut at even par and then was a remarkable 10 under on Saturday and Sunday. Streelman did not make a bogey the entire weekend. After getting into contention on Saturday, Streelman vowed to stay patient on Sunday and not force shots saying he “wanted the tournament to come to him and let it happen.” It worked out pretty well.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Kevin Streelman focused on the process of winning, not winning itself. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Kevin Streelman stated that his mental strategy for this past week was to not think about winning and let go of results. This ironic approach worked as Streelman won the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank by not worrying about winning.
Thinking about outcome, such as your score or winning a tournament, creates higher levels of anxiety in our games. Take the analogy of a construction worker who works 1,000 feet in the air and must walk across a plank to get from one site to the next. If the construction worker looked down and thought about how high he was (the outcome), he would get extremely nervous and be more inclined to fall. However by focusing on placing one foot in front of the other (the process), the worker wouldn’t get nervous and could easily walk the beam.
Streelman stated that his focus on the process and not the outcome gave him a sense of peace on the course. His mental approach allowed him to navigate the Copperhead course and the “Snake Pit” with a calm state of mind. A sense of peace and a calm demeanor are essential ingredients to performing your best under pressure.
While you may never be in the hunt in a PGA TOUR event, this “letting go of results” strategy can apply to your golf game. How many times has your score affected your emotions on the course? When your score was terrible did you get upset or frustrated? Or, on the contrary, when you were playing amazingly, did you begin to get nervous because you were thinking about your best round ever?
Like Streelman, you will find peace on the course and gain greater control over your emotions when you let go of results. Here is my mental game recommendation in this regard:
Play a round of golf without keeping your score. Your task is to think only about the shot at hand, not to be concerned with how many over or under par you are at the time during the round. At the completion of the round, you would then recall your score on each hole. Or better yet, play with a friend who keeps your score.
You will find that this approach helped you to keep your emotions and your game under better control. Once you have tried it once, begin to incorporate this approach as a regular strategy.
Yes, it is very difficult to not think about your score. Yes, it is fun to play for a score. But if results-oriented thinking is giving you too much anxiety and frustration, then this is the approach to implement into your game. When this happens, you will begin to find your peace on the course as well as your best game.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org for any comments or questions about your mental game.
Ben Kohles hit 43 of 52 fairways to lead the field in driving accuracy at the Tampa Bay Championship.
||Winner: Kevin Streelman
|Driving Distance||270.8 (48th)||Robert Garrigus (301.4 yards)||T56|
|Driving Accuracy||69.23% (T11)||Ben Kohles (82.69%)||T7
|Strokes Gained-Putting||1.819 (3rd)||Cameron Tringale (2.098)
|Greens in Regulation||68.06% (T11)||E. Compton, J.J. Henry (73.61%)||T30/T51|
|Proximity to Hole||35' 5" (39th)
||Jim Furyk (28' 9")||T7|
|Scrambling||65.22% (T28)||Tag Ridings (82.76%)||T17
WEEKLY PERFORMANCE STATS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open in Hawaii
Week 4: Farmers Insurance Open
Week 5: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Week 7: Northern Trust Open
Week 8: The Honda Classic
Week 9: WGC Cadillac & Puerto Rico Open
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jordan Spieth can go home and catch his breath now. And start making plans for an extended PGA TOUR stay.
With his tie for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, Spieth now has the option to join the TOUR as a special temporary member for the rest of the season. If he does so, the 19-year-old Spieth would be the youngest to achieve that status by cashing in his sponsor exemptions.
“I’m just extremely happy,” he said after Sunday’s 1-under-par 70. “It’s nice to actually have a schedule to plot out and know where I’m going to be a couple of weeks in advance.”
After last week’s runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com, Spieth came to Innisbrook Resort needing just $101,295 to bring his earnings equal to No. 150 on last year’s money list. He cleared that hurdle with more than $47,000 to spare.
Not that there weren’t some nervous moments. Knocked back by bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13, Spieth stood in a tie for 14th as he entered the Copperhead layout’s closing three-hole “Snake Pit.”
“The only time I felt nervous was those last few holes, just trying to get a birdie,” he said.
It finally came at the par-3 17th, and not by the conventional manner. From greenside rough, the Texan’s high flop shot touched down on the putting surface and ran into the hole as a huge roar went up.
“That was one of the coolest shots I’ve ever hit,” Spieth said. “That’s as loud as it gets here -- makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”
Spieth still had to work his way through No. 18, with its tight fairway and a spine down the middle of its green. After his approach shot landed in a greenside bunker, he blasted to 6 feet and drained the putt.
“I was nervous over that putt,” he said, “but I took it back smooth and it went in the hole.”
It capped a magical four-week odyssey for Spieth, who began his journey with a trip to Panama and his eye on earning Web.com Tour status. After top-10 finishes there and in Colombia, he took an exemption to Puerto Rico – a move that changed his course.
“I’m very fortunate to have made the right decision down there in Bogotá,” he said.
By way of comparison, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa parlayed special temporary status into 18 starts last season. Spieth already has starts lined up at the Shell Houston Open (thanks to his top 10 at Innisbrook) and Valero Texas Open, along with the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May.
The 16th hole ranked as the most difficult this week, and the 16th most-difficult hole this season on TOUR.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The Copperhead course at Innisbrook played easier in Sunday's final round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank than in any other round.
The fourth round played to a stroke average of 71.636, or .636 strokes over par. For the week, the 460-yard 16th was the most-difficult hole with a stroke average of 4.261. That average made the 16th hole this week the 16th most-difficult hole on the PGA TOUR this season. The 16th had 110 bogeys, 25 double bogeys and one triple bogey during the tournament.
Here is a rundown of the stats on the Snake Pit (Nos. 16, 17, 18):
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.221||0||8||47||19||3||0|
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.143||0||6||55||15||1||0|
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.065||0||12||49||15||1||0|
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.299
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.039
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.234
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.261||0||15||93||36||8||1|
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.144||0||16||102||32||3||0|
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.216||0||17||89||44||3||0|
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.2628||0||13||98||36||9||0|
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.2628||0||6||105||43||2||0|
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.2628||0||12||98||40||5||1|
With his victory today at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, Kevin Streelman …
-- Earns his first career PGA TOUR victory at the age of 34 years, 4 months and 13 days in his 153rd career start on TOUR.
-- Extends exempt status through 2015.
-- Becomes the fifth first-time winner in 2013.
-- Previous best finishes were T3 at the 2009 Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun, the 2010 Puerto Rico Open & the 2010 The Barclays.
-- Becomes the third player to make the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank his first career PGA TOUR win, joining Carl Pettersson (2005) and Gary Woodland (2011) with that distinction.
-- Becomes the 5th player to win in his 30s in 2013.
-- 2013 starts-made cuts-top-10s-wins: 8-5-2-1
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Kevin Streelman captured his first PGA TOUR victory at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, shrugging off Boo Weekley’s early bolt with a steady 4-under-par 67 for a two-stroke triumph.
Streelman went bogey-free for the second consecutive day at Innisbrook Resort, finally pulling clear of Weekley’s target with a birdie at the Copperhead course’s par-3 13th hole. Another birdie at No. 17 provided the final margin.
“That was really cool,” said Streelman, a sixth-year PGA TOUR veteran who won in his 153d start. “I just stayed really patient and had a peace about me today. … It’s such a tough golf course where you’ve got to pick your battles.”
Streelman completed four days at 10-under 274. Weekley, playing some three hours ahead of the leaders, made his challenge with a 63 that kept him with a share of the lead for nearly two hours after leaving the course.
Weekley had just finished a warmup session on the range when Streelman knocked down his clinching birdie at No. 17.
“Even I’m still kind of shocked at how good I really hit it,” Weekley said. “It was one of the best ballstriking days I’ve had in a long time.”
Cameron Tringale also came from well off the pace to grab third, one shot behind Weekley after a 66. Justin Leonard (71), Greg Chalmers (70) and defending champion Luke Donald (69) were another stroke back.
Among those three shots back was 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, whose closing 70 was enough to earn PGA TOUR status as a special temporary member.
After a runner-up finish last week at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com, Spieth needed to finish 13th to earn the $101,295 needed to match No. 150 on last year’s money list. He cleared that with more than $47,000 to spare.
“I never would have guessed that I’d get it this quickly,” said the two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion. “I feel great. I feel in control and I know what it’s like to be in contention in a TOUR event. I just want to come back and get a win now.”