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October 12 2011

8:31 PM

Slocum hopes to end slump in defense

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It's been a down season for Heath Slocum, but a repeat victory at Sea Island could change a lot.
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Things have not played out the way Heath Slocum had expected, or hoped, this season. The 2010 McGladrey Classic champion looked like a prime candidate to parlay his Fall Series victory into a very successful 2011, but he’s made just 15 of 27 cuts and has yet to post a top 10. Though his TOUR card is secure because of that victory last year, he enters the week at No. 119 on the money list. “This is as deep as I’ve ever been in a year this far back,” Slocum said. “But it’ll definitely make you appreciate the good ones a little better. At the same time, I think I’m going to be a better golfer for it. I’ve tried some things, tried to get better, and it’s taken a little longer than I anticipated. But at the same time, I think everything is starting to round out.” Things have started to work out tee-to-green for one of the TOUR’s premier ball strikers. He’s improved his ranking from 2010 to this year in driving distance (157th on TOUR), accuracy (2nd) and greens in regulation (3rd). In the process of working on those things, the short game has gone awry for Slocum, who has dropped 27 spots to 176th in Strokes Gained - Putting and from 19th to 165th in scrambling. Those number have caused his scoring average to raise by half a shot, dropping him to 121st on TOUR. “My putting and chipping, but mostly the putting, has been very below average for me this year,” he said. “It seems like I've almost neglected it trying to get my ball-striking early in the year back to form, and it's just been like a little cycle. Every time I would hit it bad, I putted bad, and then it just seems like now the work from all the putting is trying to catch back up … Even if I'm streaky, I am at least good sometimes. I haven't been good at any time this year at all.” A return to Sea Island may be just what the doctor ordered for Slocum, who was 13th in the field in putting and made a 60-foot putt on the 70th hole that set him up to win the inaugural event last year. The 37-year-old will be defending his title against a field that adds major champions Graeme McDowell, Vijay Singh and Angel Cabrera to an already strong group that includes Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson. “After the first year, if you’re just watching it on TV and you didn’t play, you went ‘Wow, it looks incredible,’” Slocum said. “Then you look and say, yeah, Davis Love, his foundation is involved. It’s in Sea Island this time of year -- beautiful. Word of mouth spreads. Great venue. Great sponsor. Great host. Everything came together … It’s a wonderful event.” If everything comes together again for Slocum this week in southeast Georgia, he would become the first player to successfully defend his title in a Fall Series event.
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