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March 17 2012

12:00 AM

Back east, McGirt finds his groove

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- After two missed cuts in three West Coast swing starts, William McGirt is happy to be back in a familiar place. It’s showing in his play, too.

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McGirt
McGirt, who grew up and still lives in the south and played collegiately at Wofford College, shot a 3-under 68 Friday to enter the weekend two strokes off the lead at the Transitions Championship.

“For some reason, being on the West Coast for so long, I still never adjusted,” McGirt said. “I was still waking up at 4:30 every morning. But you get back into some familiar territory and on grass that you are very familiar with; I grew up on bermudagrass.”

McGirt’s turnaround began in earnest with a final-round 65 in Mexico. He struggled at The Honda Classic, where he tied for 62nd, but last week finished 14th in Puerto Rico.

It also helps that something clicked in his putting stroke -- his left shoulder was going straight up through impact and he’s since corrected that to get his shoulders to work more around his body.

Through two rounds here, McGirt ranks 14th in the field in total putts. Friday, he also hit 14 greens in regulation.

But being back on the East Coast and in the south on a course that rewards ball-striking is as big a reason as any that McGirt is in contention at the Copperhead Course.

So is the fact that this is the second straight year for McGirt on the PGA TOUR after earning his card via q-school. The hardest part of the game a year ago, McGirt said, was having basically one day to learn a new golf course every single week.

“Last year, one thing I tried to do was play practice rounds with veteran guys, and I've played a lot of practice rounds with David Duval,” McGirt said. “We would get on the green and he would throw balls around the green and say, you really need to practice from here; this is a popular spot; you really need to hit these putts.

“Just being able to pick his brain and get some good info helped me a lot. It's really probably paid off more this year than it did last year.”

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