Like a lot of pro golfers Garth Mulroy is always searching for that magical putting stroke.
It was about a month ago when he turned to the belly putter, and good things have happened.
"I've tried them all, the claw, the reverse claw, the long putter," said Mulroy, 32, who is second on the Nationwide Tour's money list thanks to a victory two weeks ago at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. "When I went to the belly putter it just seemed to feel better when I'm over the ball. I guess I'll stick with it for awhile."
Mulroy is hoping his new-found improved putting will be there for the long haul.
He heads into this week's stop on the Nationwide Tour eager to continue his outstanding play. Instead of going home to Raleigh last week, he elected to play in the HP Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA TOUR and wound up tying for 24th.
"The first day were normal conditions, but then the wind blew the rest of the time so there were some tough conditions," said Mulroy, who shot 67 the first round then shot 74-73-74. "But it was good to get out there and play and keep me in a good frame of mind."
Because he played on the PGA TOUR last season, he has a good sense of how competitive both tours are. He pointed out that Keegan Bradley, a PGA TOUR rookie who was on the Nationwide Tour last season, is a good example.
Bradley won the Nelson in a playoff over Ryan Palmer on Sunday.
"I think in the bigger tournaments when the top 20 or 30 in the rankings are playing there's a noticeable difference, but after that it's really competitive and the winner can come out of anywhere," Mulroy said. "That's how it is on both tours."
Last season, while on a trip to his native South Africa, he hurt his ankle and missed some time. He was allowed a minor medical extension on the PGA TOUR for this season and could play in four tournaments.
He was vague about how he suffered a severe sprained ankle, but promised it wasn't from playing rugby. He was an avid rugby player growing up, but said that golf became a priority at an early age.
Mulroy, who played at N.C. State and graduated in 2003 with a degree in business, has two victories in his career on the Nationwide Tour, where he is spending his fourth full season.
In his time on the PGA TOUR last season Mulroy played in 19 tournaments but made just six cuts and had one top-10 finish. He said the experience he gained was helpful.
Mulroy pointed out that the biggest thing is learning to think better.
"It's really what goes on in your head," he said. "You get off to a bad start and you start thinking about this and that and the next thing you know you don't make the cut and it kind of steamrolls. You get caught up in what you should be doing instead of just forgetting about all of that and playing golf."
He says that besides the belly putter his mind is also clearer while playing the game.
"I've got to remember why I'm out here and to not always worry about the other stuff," he said.
Garth Mulroy wins the BMW Charity Pro-Am on the first playoff hole.
After missing his first cut of the season on the Nationwide Tour, he's made four straight that also included a tie for 18th and a tie for 25th.
The Nationwide Tour is heading into a key stretch with four straight weeks of tournaments. Included in that stretch is the Rex Hospital Open at the TPC Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh.
"I'll get to stay home and drive to that tournament," Mulroy said.
Mulroy said he had a tough time early in the season because of the spotty schedule of tournaments on the Nationwide Tour.
"It was kind of hard to carry anything over from tournament to tournament because we had so many off weeks," he said. "That will change now that we are getting closer to the summer."
Mulroy, who has played in 90 career Nationwide Tour tournaments, says having the experience on many of courses will help him as the year goes on. However, he hasn't played the course at the University of Maryland before.
"I'll get up there for the pro-am and do some heavy studying," Mulroy said. "This week is one of those rare places I haven't seen."
With a renewed sense of confidence with the belly putter, Mulroy is feeling good about the rest of the season.
"I've been working on other things as well," he said, "so it's great to see the results."
John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 17 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at email@example.com.