What did winning The Barclays in 2009 do for Heath Slocum?
“It just confirmed what I always felt,” said Slocum. “…that I could compete with the best in any given week.”
Slocum certainly has done that this week, shooting his third straight 66 Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the McGladrey Classic.
At one point, Slocum went 50 holes between Thursday and Saturday without a bogey. He finally made one on the par-4 16th in what was the only blemish on a scorecard that was almost as perfect as the weather at Sea Island Golf Club.
Now he’ll try to conjure up the same relaxed feeling he had at last year’s PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup event, which he won with a 20-foot par putt on the final hole to finish one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington.
“Using that experience to this week, the thing is with The Barclays I was relaxed from Thursday to Sunday,” Slocum said. “Even on Sunday on the 18th hole I was way more relaxed. I don't know how I was that relaxed.
“That's what I'll try to do tomorrow. I'll go out and just try to play golf, have fun with it and just draw on the experience that I've been here before, I know how to do it. I know I'm going to hit some bad shots tomorrow, but I know I'm going to hit some good ones.”
The field might not be as strong this week, but the goal is the same for Slocum.
“It's still a golf tournament,” Slocum said. “I've always tried to play in my head like a golf tournament is a golf tournament, no matter if it's a major, a Playoff event or Fall Series event. It still means the same to me. Still ultimately what I'm trying to do is win a tournament.”
A win would move Slocum inside the top 30 on the money list and secure him a spot in the season-opening winners-only SBS Championship, among a host of other perks.
If he keeps hitting it the way he has all week, that shouldn’t be a problem. Slocum is second in the field in fairways hit and seventh in greens in regulation. He’s also 14th in the field in putting after what was his best day of the week on the greens Saturday.
“I made some putts, and that's kind of I would say the formula to get around this place; you're going to hit fairways, get away with a few of your misses and make a few putts,” Slocum said. “Every shot from this point on was going to be huge, every shot you save, every putt you make.” -- Brian Wacker