Stroud banks on momentum in first round of PGA
August 10, 2017
By Helen Ross, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Best shots of Round 1 from PGA
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Since he won the Barracuda Championship in a playoff on Sunday, Chris Stroud has received 1,400 text messages, 55 voicemails and another 100 or so emails. And he has replied to every single one.
“I'm a big believer in that,” Stroud said. “I told a few guys after golf is gone and done for me, all you have left is people and the relationships you have. I care more about people than I do about my golf. I was raised that way. I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have a chance to play on the TOUR and stay healthy.”
The victory, which was the first of Stroud’s career, enabled him to jump 68 spots on the FedExCup list to 76th to secure his playing privileges for two more years. He’s also headed to Maui in January to play in the SBS Tournament of Champions for the first time.
The win also prompted another change in travel plans – landing him in the PGA Championship. And he made the most of the opportunity, shooting a 68 that left him one stroke off the lead held jointly by Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner.
“Today was one of the easiest rounds,” Stroud said. “Obviously I'm playing well. I'm swinging it nicely and putting it well. That has a lot to do with it. It's a deep confidence that I have.”
Stroud says his caddie was instrumental in Sunday’s victory and played a big role in Thursday’s round, which was the only bogey-free one of the day. Whenever Stroud starts talking about golf these days, his caddie switches the subject.
“We talk about science,” Stroud said. “We talk about spirituality, baseball, football, Texans, Houston Astros. Anything to keep my mind off golf. As soon as I hit it, I'm talking about something else. If I say something he goes, hey, hey, hey, we don't care about golf.
“It’s just an experiment we tried last week and it absolutely worked.”
Stroud, who had been on the road for five weeks, had actually planned to go home to Houston this week to see his wife and their two daughters. Next week he was headed to Greensboro to play in the Wyndham Championship.
Instead, he and his caddie drove 2 hours from Reno, Nevada, to Sacramento on Sunday night and bought two first-class tickets to Charlotte. He got in late Monday night and slept until about 11 a.m.
“I couldn't tell what time it was,” he said. “Open the curtains and it's bright. I went to bed at like 2.”
As nice as the texts and emails and phone messages were, Stroud’s parents flew to North Carolina on Wednesday to surprise him.
“We had our celebration dinner last night, just us three,” the Texan said. “It was a dream. When I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to be on the PGA TOUR. I got into college, I was 17, 18 years old. I knew I had a chance to be really good and get on the TOUR.
“When I got out here, obviously my dream was to win and be as good as I can. It's at least a 20-year dream come true.”
At the same time, Stroud admits that he had gotten to the point where he could accept that he’d had a solid career – regardless of what happened. Of course, he wanted to win but he finally realized that he was getting in his own way.
“About six months ago I said you know what, I've had 10 years of good runs out here,” Stroud said. “I've played well. I don't care if I win anymore. I want to win but I can't let that be on my shoulders all the time. I'm not going to worry about it.
“I'm going to play the best I can and let's just ride this out. I don't know if I'm good enough. I don't know if I'm good enough to win or keep my card. And since I surrendered to that, it's like all of a sudden things got -- the weight is off my shoulders.
“All these people have told me this for years. To actually do that, I had to get to the bottom to figure that out. I literally just said you know what I'm done. I'm just going to do the best I can and have as much fun as I can.
“All of a sudden it falls in my lap.”