April 28 2011
Joe Durant figured it couldn't hurt. After all, he'd only cashed two checks in nine starts this year.
So the 47-year-old decided to change his shafts in his irons earlier this week, and the move paid big dividends on Thursday when he shot a 67 in the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The round of six birdies and just one bogey gave Durant the clubhouse lead on a breezy day at TPC Louisiana. He was one shot ahead of Webb Simpson and Matt Bettencourt when the morning wave had finished.
"I'm using the same iron head," Durant explained. "I just changed shafts this week, because I was having trouble this year flighting the ball down. I've been hitting a lot of up-shooting type shots, which is not normal for me.
"So the shaft change has helped me tremendously. I can see the ball coming out with the proper trajectory now. Made a big difference, especially when it's windy like here."
Thursday's wind wasn't nearly as fierce as it had been the day before when Durant noted “they almost had to name the storm." That said, the breezes were coming from a different direction -- but it didn't confuse the veteran, who is playing in his 15th Zurich Classic.
"I think I just stayed very patient today," Durant said. "Some of the pins were in some difficult spots so you had to kind of shoot away from them.
"I just took what the course gave me today. I had a couple of good opportunities that I was able to capitalize on. Like I said earlier, the wind was in a total different direction, so it was almost like a new golf course today.
"But I played well. I played around here enough to know what it's going to do with different winds, and I just had a game plan for the north wind, so it worked out pretty well."
Durant's round was even more impressive considering he only birdied one of TPC Louisiana's four par 5s. "So, yeah, that's encouraging that I didn't really attack the fives that great and still shot 5 under," he said. "Maybe I can get them tomorrow."
By the time he finished off his round, Durant said the wind had lost some of its intensity. He expected scoring to improve in the afternoon, as a result.
"There will be some good numbers this afternoon," Durant said. "I wouldn't be surprised. I don't think 5 under will be leading at the end of the day. I think somebody can shoot 6 or 7. But they're just drying out, too, so it will be tough to tell."