'Process' leads Armour to best golf of career
November 02, 2017
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
Ryan Armour interview after winning Sanderson Farms
Believe in the process.
Ohio State alum Ryan Armour has maintained that mantra over the past few years of a professional golf career that have seen him rise from the mini-tour grind, to the Web.com Tour, to the PGA TOUR – back down to the Web.com Tour, then back up to the PGA TOUR.
‘The process’ can be perceived as a generality, used by sports teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Buffalo Bills in reference to a rebuilding strategy that takes a holistic, long-term approach.
But when broken down to its nuts and bolts, ‘the process’ means an unwavering commitment to a defined strategy, meant to increase performance over time. ‘The process’ means discipline backed by motivation.
‘The process’ came together for Armour in a big way at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the 41-year-old won by five strokes over Chesson Hadley to secure his first PGA TOUR title.
For a player who had earned just two prior top-5 PGA TOUR finishes in the first 18 years of his professional career, it meant validation of consistently staying true to ‘the process,’ regardless of the result at the time.
It also means job security, in the form of a TOUR exemption through the 2019-20 season.
When interviewed Sunday afternoon on the 18th green at the Country Club of Jackson, it was apparent that ‘the process’ had paid off.
“I’m tearing up,” said Armour when asked to describe the emotion of the moment. “I’m not gonna lie. There were some lean times. Thought about quitting, but my wife wouldn’t let me.
“It goes back to, ‘Have faith in what you do.’ If you believe in something, go do it. Work hard at it, and have fun doing it.”
So what exactly is ‘the process’ for Armour?
The Ohio native doesn’t like to reveal the specifics, but it consists of a defined on- and off-course plan that involves eating right, sleeping right, exercising right, and working on the correct things in his game at the right times.
Armour and his New York area-based instructor, Jason Carbone, devised a five-year plan earlier this summer, and Armour admitted after his win in Mississippi that it came together ‘a bit quicker’ than he might have expected.
Prior to the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Regular Season-ending Wyndham Championship, Armour made a list of goals for the week, both on and off the course, outlining ‘the process’ he intended to maintain for the week.
The 1993 U.S. Junior runner-up (to Tiger Woods) finished fourth that week, his best showing of the season. Although it wasn’t quite enough to maintain his TOUR status, the finish gave him momentum that carried into the Web.com Tour Finals, where he placed second at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship to secure his TOUR return.
Ryan Armour comments after Round 4 of Nationwide Children's
Throughout the week at The Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet course, in front of avid fans and friends from his collegiate days, Armour again stuck to a defined plan that served him well – and set him up for a career-defining week at the CC of Jackson.
“I won’t tell you what’s on it, but I did it,” when asked in Columbus if he again made a list of process goals. “Very similar what was on the list (at the Wyndham Championship). A little less focus on golf, and more on exercise and eating.”
One might be inclined to ask, if the process is so effective, why does it take sometimes take so long for results to kick in?
Simply put, life gets in the way. The life of a professional golfer means balancing family, practice, competition and travel, as well as the world’s various trials and tribulations.
Armour is married with two young sons, and it isn’t always the easiest to stick to ‘the process’ 24/7/365, in a profession that requires being on the road for more than half the year.
But powered by the unwavering support of his wife Erin – who has made healthy living a family focal point, and who is running this weekend's New York City Marathon – and sons Patrick and Nicholas, Armour has propelled his game to new heights as he enters his 40s.
“I think that’s when you forget it,” said Armour in Columbus, when asked how to stick to the process in times of struggle. “You forget to believe, ‘Hey, you’re working on the right stuff; you’re exercising correctly. You’re eating healthy. You’re getting the right amount of sleep.’
“It’s all a process, as I get into my 40s, that I have to watch. If I believe in it and stick to it, I mean, it’s shown it’s successful.
“We’re running around the country, and I’ve got two little ones at home that I love playing outside all day with, and you sometimes neglect to take care of yourself first. That’s just the way it is.”If I believe in it and stick to it, I mean, it's shown it's successful.
Armour turned pro in 1999, and it took him until 2004 to earn full Web.com Tour status.
He played eight full Web.com Tour seasons, with three PGA TOUR seasons mixed in, before breaking through for his first Web.com Tour title at the 2016 Panama Claro Championship, which propelled him to TOUR status for the 2016-17 season.
Although he had needed to regain his TOUR status for 2017-18 via the Web.com Tour Finals, Armour arrived at the Sanderson Farms Championship knowing he was playing some of the best golf of his life, as evidenced by his recent top-5 finishes at the Wyndham Championship and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
It all coalesced over four magical days in Mississippi, where he became the oldest competitor to win on TOUR since Rod Pampling at the 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Ryan Armour boasts big win at Panama
The win in Jackson propelled Armour to No. 9 in the FedExCup standings while earning him spots in the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship and the PGA Championship.
These are heady times for Armour, as he strives to emerge into a consistent contender on TOUR over the next few seasons.
And if he sticks to the process, the sky’s the limit.
“It just proves that if you keep grinding and keep working, believing in the process … the process will get you there,” said Armour after his 2016 win in Panama.
“I don’t think you can do what we do and not believe in yourself.”
There may be debate between Bills and 76ers fans regarding ownership of the ‘process’ mantra. But Armour deserves a place in the conversation, as well.
--Royce Thompson contributed reporting.
Ryan Armour interview after winning the 2016 Panama Claro Championship