August 24 2012
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- In missing the cut in his last two starts, Bob Estes dropped from 87th to 103rd in FedExCup points going into The Barclays this week. He needed to do something -- fast -- to get his game in order and move inside the top 100 that advances to the Deutsche Bank Championship next week.
So in the five days between his missed cut at last week's Wyndham Championship and Thursday's first round at the Bethpage State Park Black Course, Estes made two key changes.
He adjusted his set-up, moving closer to the ball at address. And he changed his putting grip to put his left hand low.
Result? Estes is 7 under through the first two rounds at The Barclays after shooting a sizzling 5-under 66 in Friday's second round. That should leave him among the leaders going into the weekend.
By making the cut this week, Estes has put himself in position to advance. He knows at 103 in the standings, he can't afford to let up this weekend. He's treating his situation like he's back at Q-school, his back against the wall.
"Sometimes I think I'm focused, but I'm maybe not as focused as I could be," said the 46-year-old Texan. "So I played these two rounds more with that Q-school mindset and focus and discipline, and so that's allowed me to shoot the scores that I shot."
Estes said after his early exit at Wyndham, he realized something was wrong with his game.
"My good shots were OK but my bad shots were just too bad, so I knew something had to change," Estes said. "Your bad shots just can't be as bad as mine were last week.
"I only missed the cut by two shots, but still, the bad shots were just too far off line."
He hasn't produced many bad shots at Bethpage Black. Estes hit 21 of 28 fairways in the first two rounds, and an even more impressive 30 of 36 greens.
Meanwhile, having constantly changing his putting grip throughout his career, Estes has gone back to left-hand low. He’s made 35 of 38 putts inside 15 feet.
"I know I'm supposed to putt with the left hand below the right because mechanically that's just the way I set up to it correctly," Estes said. "But I get stubborn sometimes and I go back and forth.
"I should just stick with it, but maybe sometimes I've putted with the left hand below the right or maybe I didn't have the right putter, so sometimes that might confuse me or confuse the next guy. Maybe the putter that I'm using now matches up better with putting left hand low as compared to what I've putted with in the past."
Whatever the reason, he seems to have found the right combination this week.