McLachlin works his way back
Former PGA TOUR winner to tee it up at Q-School's Final Stage
December 07, 2016
By Jarrod Heil, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- December 07, 2016
- Parker McLachlin won the 2008 Barracuda Championship. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Following a seven-shot victory at the PGA TOUR’s Barracuda Championship in 2008, Parker McLachlin’s game took a downhill turn.
The combination of clutter in his head, lack of confidence and the technical approach enforced by his instructor, Sean Foley, resulted in 14 cuts made out of 45 TOUR events during the next two seasons.
He was so close to quitting golf that he said he loosely interviewed for a job on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive TV show.
But a fateful three-hour lunch with longtime friend Paul Azinger at Oahu’s Outrigger Canoe Club in 2013 allowed him to rediscover the style of play he once had, and reinvigorate his love for the game.
“Half the time (at that lunch) I’m like holding back tears because I’m like, ‘I think I’m going to quit. I don’t know where the golf ball’s going. I’m not having fun. This is like a nightmare for me,’” said McLachlin, who hopes to reenergize his career at the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School. “He’s like, ‘Come back to Tampa, come hang out with me for a week, stay at my house. I think I can get you out of it.’”
Less than two months later, McLachlin was on a plane.
“That got me back on track,” he said. “It was a pretty quick change, and then it was getting over all the scar tissue I had built up; all the mental mess ups that I had over the last three or four years of standing on a tee and seeing the ball go 100 yards right.
“He understands who I am as a golfer, how I learn, and he’s just reminded me how to get back to being that guy.”
The technical style of play Foley, his instructor at the time, was prescribing in his lessons just wasn’t compatible with McLachlin’s ways.It’s just been a huge learning curve for me, and it’s taken a long time, and there’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears."
“I didn’t realize it at the time that (Foley’s) style and my style are totally different,” he said. “The harder I practiced, the worse I got.”
McLachlin is a right-brained thinker, leaning on creativity instead of mechanics to get the job done. He aims at a cloud in the sky and visualizes striping a driver through it.
“(Azinger’s) like, ‘I’ve never heard anyone talk like that. Let’s get back to being visual and hitting shots through clouds, and having that picture dictate your golf swing rather than trying to put your golf swing in a certain place,’” McLachlin said.
In addition to the visualization technique, Azinger noticed McLachlin’s brain was too cluttered with what could and would go wrong when he stood over the ball. That attributed largely to a fading confidence in his game.
“Confidence is an earned commodity,” he said. “You can’t just go buy it somewhere. It’s not just given out. I had to go re-earn the confidence.”
He re-earned it by playing guys for money and playing mini tours. Though it hasn’t shown in the statistical category since he began working with Azinger – missing 11 of 12 cuts on the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR – McLachlin feels that he’s playing better golf now than he has in his entire life.
Those numbers didn’t mean much in McLachlin’s mind anyway. After all, he said it’s tough to compete at that level when he’s playing one-day, Monday qualifiers. Many times he would wear himself out before the tournament began, playing practice rounds that he wasn’t used to.
And then there are entries as an alternate. At the 2016 John Deere Classic, he wasn’t notified he would be playing until less than 18 hours until tee off. And with up to six months between starts, he hasn’t been able to get into any sort of rhythm.
“A four-day event is so much different. The mentality, the physical preparation, the mental preparation, it’s just completely different,” McLachlin said. “If I have a full year of 25 events, where I can say, ‘OK, I can build. I just missed the cut there, I can build on that because I know what to work on for the next week.’”
Stringing together strong showings on mini tours, as well as a solo sixth place finish in Second Stage at Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont, California, and a third-place finish at the 2016 TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, McLachlin’s confidence is back, and he’s on his game.
“It’s just been a huge learning curve for me, and it’s taken a long time, and there’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” McLachlin said. “Getting through Second Stage this year was a massive step in that journey to getting back to achieving my dreams.”