February 1 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When he was a student at a local community college, Robert Garrigus volunteered at what is now known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
He worked the practice range at TPC Scottsdale that year. Garrigus remembers Hal Sutton letting him swing a driver -- and the 20-year-old out-driving the pro. Fuzzy Zoeller let him hit a few, too.
"Just stuff like that you remember for the rest of your life, and this is kind of where it started," Garrigus said.
Oh, and don't forget the ace Tiger Woods made at the 16th hole that year. Garrigus was in the gallery, chanting for Woods' playing partner, Omar Uresti, who had hit his tee shot at the famous par 3 to about 4 feet. And then Tiger's ball found the cup and set the arena on its ear.
"It was unbelievable," Garrigus recalled. "I told Tiger about that. He's like, oh, you were there for that, huh? I'm like, yeah, the freaking windows in the clubhouse were shaking. They could feel the roar from the clubhouse.
"That was pretty cool. That made me -- if I didn't want to be a professional golfer right there, I wasn't going to be one."
Garrigus, who turned pro later that year, is making more memories at TPC Scottsdale this year. He fired his second-straight 66 on Friday and moved to 10 under par, which was one shot off the lead when he finished and two behind Keegan Bradley as the morning wave finished.
Garrigus, who now lives in Ahwatukee, which is about 25 miles from Scottsdale, is playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the fifth time. He tied for 11th in his 2007 debut but had missed the last three cuts.
The veteran came into this week playing the best golf of his career, though. He finished second four times on the PGA TOUR last year and added a fifth in Malaysia in October. A week ago, Garrigus tied for sixth at the Farmers Insurance Open after closing with a 67.
"It's been a fun run, and I'm keeping it going," Garrigus said. "I feel really strong, very healthy. My swing is not breaking down, I'm not getting nervous, and it's been a lot of fun the past six, seven months."
Garrigus, who has one PGA TOUR victory, actually traces the upturn to his tie for third at the 2011 U.S. Open. That's when he finally began to feel like he had the game to compete with anyone and that "even when I wasn't playing good I could still finish in the top 10 like last week," he said.
Friday's 66, which included six birdies and a lone bogey, was his 14th straight at par or better dating back to late last year. He ranks fifth in driving distance in 2013 with an average of 308 yards but he's also third in greens in regulation finding 79.17 percent in regulation.
Garrigus has dialed back a little this week, hitting the occasional 3-wood -- which also travels in excess of 300 yards in then desert air -- to make sure he finds fairways instead of cacti. He also has tried to limit the distractions from family and friends in hopes of being able to celebrate with them come Sunday.
"To win in your hometown and always being able to play here regardless of your status, and doing it in front of the crazies out there, that would mean a lot," Garrigus said. "And that would give me a lot of confidence because it's like a major on the last four holes."