Following his opening-round 65, Martin Laird reflects on his play with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A new caddy and renewed confidence in his putter helped lift Martin Laird into a share of the lead after the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Laird was the only player to traverse the Stadium Course without a bogey on Thursday. The 65 he ended up shooting left the Scotsman tied with Ian Poulter, one stroke ahead of Blake Adams and two up on Kevin Na and Ben Crane.
"Obviously very happy with my round today," said Laird, who had never broken 70 in nine previous rounds at the Stadium Course and never finished higher than a tie for 69th in three starts there. "Going bogey free anywhere is good, but around this golf course it feels extremely satisfying."
Laird, who came into the week ranked 119th in strokes-gained putting, took just 12 putts on each side on Thursday, too, which left him tied for fourth in that statistical category. He's been working on his putting with Dave Stockton Jr. and the effort he's put in paid dividends in the first round.
"The whole thing they work with is trying not to care on your putts," Laird said. "I consciously have been doing that the last couple weeks, not trying to try too hard because I know I haven't putted well here before -- just have a quick look, see what you think the line is and let it go. Don't study it too much and don't think about it too much."
Laird says he's also benefitted from having a new caddy on his bag, a good friend from Australia named Shay Knight, who used to work for Laird's buddy, Matt Jones. The two started working together last week at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, where both now make their home and Laird tied for 26th.
"We've been friends for years, and I have him now on the bag, and it was kind of nice to be out on the course and be able to chat away to someone that's my age and is like a friend as opposed to a caddie," Laird said. "Not saying my old caddie and I weren't friends, it's just a little different when it's someone you've been friends with anyway. And he think that's definitely helped keep me a little more relaxed on the golf course, and it feeds through all parts of your game down to your putting."