March 18 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Many will point to Kevin Streelman’s birdie on the 17th hole as the most important shot of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank but I think the key stroke occurred much earlier.
Streelman hit the best shot of the day into the 13th hole. The par 3 was playing 194 yards with the hole cut 30 paces onto the green and just four from the right side. Streelman called it a perfect number for his 5-iron. He hit a high cut and squeezed the shot between the flagstick and the edge of the green, just 6 feet from the cup.
Many thought he had pushed the approach and the mistake turned out perfectly but Streelman insisted he had been practicing that exact shot and had the confidence to fire at the hole despite a bunker and water on that right-hand side. Streelman made the birdie and played the remaining five holes with the confidence he could pull off shots when needed.
Greens speed: The entire day was overcast with some late rain showers and it made a huge difference in the speed of the greens. The putting surfaces remained much more receptive than we had seen the previous three days. Golf balls that had been landing and bouncing over the greens, were now creating ball marks and spinning. It made a huge difference in the way players were able to attack the course.
Fishing: Boo Weekley had to change plans. He had a 10:58 tee time and planned to drive to Orlando following his round to get in some fishing. All those plans changed when he shot an 8-under 63. Weekley said his goal at the start of the round was to shoot 2 under on each nine. He doubled that total and patiently waited as contender after contender failed to beat his total. It wasn’t until Streelman hit the 18th green with a two-shot lead that Weekley conceded it was safe to leave the grounds. Several fish are probably swimming happily in Orlando and grateful for Weekley’s good play.
Adjustment: Greg Chalmers had been hitting the ball beautifully this year but his putting was frustrating. On Wednesday, the Aussie discovered he had been standing a little to close to the golf ball. He backed up a little bit and the putter started swinging more easily and releasing.
Thursday was an adjustment period with 30 putts but in each of the next three rounds, Chalmers had just 25 putts. His 105 total was the fewest number of putts in the tournament. His short game was also sharp as Chalmers ranked first in scrambling. He parlayed that chipping and putting into a fourth-place finish.
Consistent: Streelman was tied for 70th place after an opening-round 73. He reasoned he was playing well and tried to remain patient during a second-round 69. He made the cut at even par and then was a remarkable 10 under on Saturday and Sunday. Streelman did not make a bogey the entire weekend. After getting into contention on Saturday, Streelman vowed to stay patient on Sunday and not force shots saying he “wanted the tournament to come to him and let it happen.” It worked out pretty well.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here