Joey Garber shakes off double bogeys, leads by three at Huntsville Championship
April 30, 2021
By Zach Dirlam, PGATOUR.COM
- April 30, 2021
- Garber has 16 birdies through two rounds in Huntsville. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Even after double bogeys Thursday and Friday, Joey Garber holds a three-stroke lead through 36 holes at the Huntsville Championship. The Petoskey, Michigan native erased the two mishaps with 16 birdies across his two rounds, three more than anyone else in the field.
Garber’s field-leading eight birdies Friday washed away his scorecard’s only blemish, a double bogey at the par-4 15th, statistically the toughest hole at The Ledges through two rounds. With seven birdies in his final 12 holes, Garber posted a 6-under 64, matching the lowest score of his Korn Ferry Tour career; he previously carded five 64s in 61 starts on Tour, with the most recent coming eight days ago at the inaugural Veritex Bank Championship.
Garber’s 11-under 129, the lowest 36-hole score of his Korn Ferry Tour career, is even more impressive given the fact he opened the tournament with a double bogey at No. 1, a 425-yard par 4.
“I hit a really good shot. It landed two feet from the pin, and it started to spin left where there’s a little fall off left of the green,” Garber said of his approach Thursday. “It was on the green for probably 20 seconds and rolled off down the cliff and into the hazard. I wasn’t too upset about that. The way it happened let me get over it pretty quickly. We joked about it.
“Those holes are really hard. You’re one swing away from making a double on those holes and, unfortunately, I did that,” Garber continued. “As long as you can keep plugging along, stay positive and make birdies, you’re never out of it.”
Putting is typically the strength of Garber’s game, but his flatstick took a little extra time to warm up this spring. Through two rounds, Garber has 51 putts (and zero three-putts), the last of which was a 25-footer he drained for a walk-off birdie on the par-3 9th.
“These are bentgrass greens. They look familiar to me. They look good to my eyes. A lot of times, whether it’s five feet or 30 feet, I’m able to see the line right away,” Garber said. “This is typically the time of year I play well. My game is pretty sharp right now.”
Garber’s collegiate career began at the University of Michigan. Following his freshman season in Ann Arbor, Garber transferred to the University of Georgia, where he played alongside PGA TOUR members Keith Mitchell and Sepp Straka, as well as fellow Korn Ferry Tour member Greyson Sigg. After graduating in 2014, Garber turned pro and eventually earned Korn Ferry Tour status for the 2018 season.
At 19th on the Tour’s regular season money list, largely a product of his win at the REX Hospital Open, Garber earned his PGA TOUR card for the 2018-19 season. It was a short stint on TOUR, as Garber missed 12 cuts, only managed two top-10s in 22 starts, and finished 170th in the FedExCup standings.
Garber lost his TOUR card, then failed to retain it at the three-event 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Although he’s never led a Korn Ferry Tour event prior to the final round, Garber does have a pair of top-10s this season. Garber will also draw on his PGA TOUR experience as he pursues a return to the winner’s circle and golf’s highest level.
“The big TOUR trains you to play proper golf, and this is a course that makes you play properly,” Garber said. “Golf is such a tough game. It’s so mental. You’re fighting yourself the whole time. I’m just trying to stay positive and be myself out there, which is easy to do when you play with two friends like Zack (Sucher) and Kevin (Dougherty).
“Hopefully I’ll get some good buddies the next couple days and we’ll have some fun. That’s when I play my best.”
Third-round tee times will run from 6:46 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. local time Saturday off the first tee. Garber will play with Paul Bajorn, who is sitting T2 at 8-under par, in Saturday’s final pairing.