TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 25: Patton Kizzire
The FedExCup points leader going into 2018 hopes to continue his big year with an extended Playoffs push
December 06, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Patton Kizzire breaks through for his first win at OHL Classic
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
After his breakthrough win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, Patton Kizzire finished the fall as the FedExCup points leader and the man to chase in 2018. It’s a big step forward in a career that has shown promise but had lacked the desired consistency.
Kizzire had a runner-up finish in each of his first two seasons on the PGA TOUR, along with eight top 10s. But last season, he missed as many cuts as he made, with his mental toughness put to the test.
But this fall, the tall strapping former mini-tour grinder held off none other than Rickie Fowler in Mexico for his breakthrough win and the confidence garnered is set to catapult him into a huge season.
Asked after his victory if he’s leaving Mexico as a different player, Kizzire replied: “Same player, different resume. It gives me a lot of confidence to beat such a great field here, and to finally get my first win, it gives me such great vibes. I'm excited to take that confidence into my future tournaments and the rest of my career.”
It came after back-to-back top 10s at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. It’s evident this Auburn grad is trending in the right direction.
And now, with the luxury of knowing his card is secured for this season and two more after it, the shackles have been released.
It should free him up to trust his ball-striking more and allow his sometimes-hot putter to work him into contention more often.
But he will have to secure up his accuracy off the tee to really take things to the next level. While he got away with 58 percent of fairways in the fall, those numbers are likely to catch up with him over a full season.
Kizzire will be buoyed by the knowledge all four previous players to lead the FedExCup heading into the new year have gone on the make the TOUR Championship that season.
So, the 31-year-old’s record of bowing out in week two of the Playoffs in each of the last two seasons is likely to be broken.
Current 2017-18 position: 1st
Playoff appearances: 2
TOUR Championship appearances: 0
Best result: 82nd (2016)
BY THE NUMBERS
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Patton Kizzire in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Cameron Morfit
Kizzire turns heads with his height at 6-feet-5, but with his mental game finally coming around, the sky is the limit for this 31-year-old from Auburn. It’s not just that he won for the first time at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba; it’s how he did it, holding off Rickie Fowler on a mentally taxing, 36-hole Sunday. “I wanted to see how I’d respond to that,” said Kizzire, a veteran of the Web.com Tour and the Hooters Tour. Self-belief will help going forward, as would fairways and greens. Always a gifted putter, Kizzire could win again soon if he elevates his tee-to-green stats with instructor Todd Anderson.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
It's fitting that he's atop the FedExCup standings over the holidays since he's done some of his best work in the fall. However, given he concluded the first two autumns of his career at a respective 16th and 13th and still hasn't advanced to the third leg of the Playoffs, there's legitimate concern for another letdown. The original curiosity when he broke onto the PGA TOUR was that he was a late bloomer. Now 31 years of age – older than the likes of Keegan Bradley, Kevin Chappell, Billy Horschel, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler to name a few more accomplished contemporaries – Kizzire's ramp into his prime is steeper than most, but he's in that magical third season when it has come together for so many before him.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Switched to a mixed Titleist 718 iron setup at the Safeway Open that includes T-MB (4-iron), CB (5-6) and MB (7-PW). The T-MB helps with gapping and ball flight at the top of the set. Replaced Titleist 915D4 driver with 917D3 the first week it was available at Quicken Loans National. Vokey SM6 Oversize K has changed slightly, keeping the width but changing the bounce angle for conditions. Has offset added to the wedge for an old school look.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Off the course, Kizzire is all about hunting and fishing, making his Columbia Sportswear shirts a natural fit for him. Look for him to stick with what works best for him in 2018 -- classic looks with traditional colors and fits.