By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Josh Teater's first three seasons on the PGA TOUR were by all accounts a success -- he qualifield for the FedExCup Playoffs every year and twice finished with more than $1 million in earnings. The only thing missing was a win.
Last week in San Diego, he nearly got it (save for Tiger Woods' runaway victory). The runner-up finish by Teater was a career best for the 33-year-old. And it's a result he might not have achieved if not for some putting advice he received from Steve Stricker at last year's John Deere Classic.
Stricker spent 30 minutes with Teater on the putting green, and the the two later played a practice round together during the Playoffs.
"(He got me) to take better control over the putter," Teater said Wednesday in an interview with John Swantek on Talk of the TOUR on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. "It's given me way more consistency. It made me a world of difference."
Case in point: The last two years, Teater ranked 142nd and 132nd in strokes gained-putting. He was also 174th and 99th in total putting and 135th and 79th on putts inside 10 feet.
This year, Teater ranks 16th in strokes gained-putting, 15th in total putting and 10th on putts inside 10 feet.
Always a good ball-stiker, the short game was the one area Teater needed the most work on. Enter Stricker, one of the best putters in the history of the game, and his advice.
At Torrey Pines, Teater one-putted his final eight holes and led the field in strokes gained-putting.
"Last year I feel like I turned the corner," Teater said. "(The advice from Stricker) is what kept me in there last week."
And possibly headed toward that elusive first victory.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- All three had varying degrees of satisfaction with the way the Farmers Insurance Open ended.
But there is no denying that Brandt Snedeker, the reigning FedExCup champion, Nick Watney and Josh Teater should all have momentum heading into this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open.
After all, Snedeker and Teater tied for second at Torrey Pines, four strokes behind Tiger Woods, while Watney shared fourth with Jimmy Walker. Of the three, Teater had the best back nine when the pressure was on but when the dust settles, there were positives for each.
Teater's finish was the best of his career, eclipsing the tie for third at the 2010 Turning Stone Resort Championship. The Kentuckian close the 2012 campaign out with three top-10s in his last nine starts and he had a tie for 15th in Hawaii to go along with Monday's career-best.
"It was a good finish," Teater said. "I didn't play my best. Usually I'm a good ball striker, good driver, and I didn't really have that. But I've been working hard on my short game and my putting, and that's what kept me in it this week.
"It was awesome to have a finish like this when you don't really feel like you're playing your best or maybe in the past I've put emphasis in other spots. It just kind of opened my eyes to what I can continue working on. This is my fourth year out here, so it's no fluke that I belong. It's just taking the next step."
Snedeker trailed by six when he returned to attempt an 11-footer at the 14th hole on Monday. His putter let him down, though, there and with an inordinate amount of three-putts for the man who led the TOUR in strokes-gained putting last year.
The 75 Snedeker shot in the second round after owning a share of the first-round lead didn't help, either.
"I was a little disappointed with the way I finished today," said Snedeker, who shot 69 in the final round. "Just didn't roll the ball the way I wanted to all week. Had a good little stretch in my third round, being the fourth round, end of the third round.
"But you've got to roll the ball really well around here, and I didn't do a good job of that in the second round. It's a little frustrating because it's normally something I think I can do well. It was a good last 36 holes, but I've still got a lot of stuff to work on for (the Waste Management Phoenix Open)."
Snedeker was trying to come from seven strokes behind and win for the second straight year. In 2012, he closed with a 67 and was in the media center discussing what appeared to be a second-place finish when Kyle Stanley triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole to let Snedeker into the playoff he won.
"I guess it was a good title defense," Snedeker said. "I'm not really excited about the way I finished. If I had made three birdies going into today, I'd probably be more excited about it. But that's how you judge it is how you finish, and I didn't finish very well, so that's very frustrating.
"But at the beginning of the week if you had told me I'd have a chance on the back nine on Sunday, I probably would have taken it. So it's something to build on."
Watney is also a Farmers Insurance Open champion, winning the tournament in 2009. He trailed Woods by five strokes when he made the turn but stumbled on the back nine, making four bogeys before rolling in a birdie putt on the 72nd hole.
"It was a bit disappointing, but not a bad start, and I'm looking forward to next week," said Watney, who tied for second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in his other 2013 start. "(My game is) pretty good. You know, today was a bit rocky. I don't know if it was the wind or whatever it was. ... I'm close to doing some good things, and I just want to get a little closer next time."
This week marks the 33rd event of the PGA TOUR season. It also is the 25th week Tommy Gainey, Blake Adams and Josh Teater have teed it up.
That’s some serious grinding, and, at least in Gainey’s case, it’s paid off. Gainey is 36th in the FedExCup standings and has five top-10s, which includes two third-place finishes. Just two weeks ago, he also tied for seventh at the Viking Classic. Thursday, he put himself in decent position after an even-par 70 at The Old White TPC.
Adams, meanwhile, has fared well of late, too. Both his top-10s this year have come in the last month and Thursday he opened with a 69. Adams is also 86th in the FedExCup standings.
Teater, on the other hand, has needed all the starts he can get. He’s 129th in the FedExCup standings with a month to go in the regular season. The good news: He’s coming off a tie for 13th in Canada. The bad news: He failed to break par and shot 71 Thursday.
Three players with similar journeys and different results. That’s a pretty good peek into what grinding it out on TOUR is all about.
DUBLIN, Ohio -- On the comeback trail after a series of nagging shoulder and wrist injuries, Chris DiMarco needed a sponsor's exemption to make the field for the Memorial Tournament.
And now he's showing Jack Nicklaus -- his coach in two Presidents Cups -- that his faith was rewarded.
DiMarco is even par through nine holes in the second round and two shots out of the lead held by his playing partner, Josh Teeter. DiMarco has made two birdies and a pair of bogeys as he embarks on the back nine.
DiMarco actually thought he was going to earn his spot on merit, but finished a few positions shy. So he joked that he reminded Nicklaus that he made the winning putt in a 1-up win over Stuart Appleby at the 2005 Presidents Cup to sweeten the deal.
"Presidents Cup helped," DiMarco said on Thursday. "There were a few things that were good, there was no doubt about it. I kept reminding him, Remember that putt I made in the Presidents Cup? I could use a spot here."
DiMarco has only had two top-10s in the last three years. He came close to another earlier this year when he tied for 11th in Puerto Rico and the 42-year-old feels a putting change has been key.
"I'm lifting my putter off the ground and it's really helping me smooth things out," DiMarco said. "... I don't do it all the time, but when I feel like I'm pushing the putter into the ground, so to speak, like putting pressure on it, it's hard to get the putter back.
"So by lifting it off the ground, it's not so much different than what Charlie Wi does with his putter where he kind of bounces, it's the same type of thing. You're just trying to get the putter started going back."