By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For the second straight year, Kris Blanks doesn't have to sweat keeping his card.
He's taking a different approach to the Fall Series, though. And it showed in Thursday's 67 on the Magnolia Course that left Blanks one shot off the lead in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
The strong start shouldn't come as a surprise, either. Blanks, who started the week 74th on the money list in his sophomore season, tied for 10th in Las Vegas and shared 11th last week at The McGladrey Classic.
"Last year once I had my card locked up, I pretty much took the
Fall Series off," said Blanks, who was speaking figuratively after
missing the cut in three of those four events. "... I just moved to
Florida, I just had a new house, and was really just enjoying my
accomplishment, keeping my card.
"This year, I'm trying to run through the finish line instead of coast. So it's been good. ... I'm still one of the last guys to leave the putting green, and I'm seeing results on the golf course. So it's a lot of fun."
Blanks, who birdied four of his first five holes Thursday, has completed quite a turnaround after missing six of his first eight cuts this season. First of all, Blanks went back to his old Titleist ball after experimenting with the new one. He also returned to the shafts he'd used previously after switching to compensate for the new ball.
"It took a couple weeks to kind of settle everything down," Blanks said.
An old instructor, V.J. Trolio, seeing that Blanks had gotten off track with the changes he'd made, weighed in, too. And one of Blanks' friends, Travis Perkins, started caddying for him -- which was the final piece of the puzzle, the TOUR pro said.
"(Trolio) just sent me a text message and saw I was struggling," Blanks said. "He said, you know, Bro, I could help you. Let's get back together. He came to New Orleans and we kind of got going the right direction. So between that, the caddie and just I play much better in the summertime anyway once it heats up.
“Then obviously you get some confidence going."