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Chris DiMarco: 'My confidence is coming back'

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Chris DiMarco: 'My confidence is coming back'

    Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour

    Chris DiMarco didn’t pick up a club between mid-November and a practice round at the PGA TOUR Champions' Morocco Championship in January, and it showed.

    He made a marra-mess in Marrakesh, finishing dead last in the 66-man field after rounds of 79-76-77.

    He wasn’t thrilled, but he wasn’t especially surprised, either.

    “It wasn’t stellar,” DiMarco said Tuesday. “I was really, really rusty, especially with my short game.”

    Nothing a long drive, some Florida sun and a lot of practice time with his son couldn’t cure.

    Chris and his wife, Amy, drove from their home in Colorado to Tampa, where their 24-year-old son Cristian lives. Chris played and practiced with Cristian for six consecutive days before heading on to Naples, Florida for the Chubb Classic. With renewed confidence in his short game, DiMarco, 51, posted the best finish of his brief Champions Tour career - a tie for fifth at 12 under. He played in the final group for the first time, too.

    “My son knows my game very well, and he noticed a few things,” DiMarco said. “He said my wedge was going back kind of closed. He told me to open it up and that made a huge difference. He also told me to take my putter back slower, and it gave me a really good feel on the greens.”

    DiMarco was third in the field in putting per green in regulation at the Chubb, and he didn’t have a single three-putt. He said he three-putted five or six times in Morocco. His second-round 64 was the lowest round of his Champions Tour career. He had an eagle and six birdies to go with 10 pars and a bogey.

    The 64 left him two shots behind Stephen Leaney going into Sunday. DiMarco was grouped with Leaney and Bernhard Langer, who entered the day in second, one shot back.

    “I wouldn’t say I was nervous to be in the last group, but absolutely I was anxious for the round,” DiMarco said. “I feel like I played really solidly, three birdies and a bogey. I had a couple of really good up-and-downs for par.

    “Once you start doing that, you can get in the groove. It’s like riding a bike. The hardest thing for me last year (as a rookie) was to get into the groove of playing every week and not being nervous and trusting in yourself. It took 5 or 6 months. Once I did it made all the difference in the world.”

    DiMarco shot a final-round 2-under 69. Leaney shot 71 and also ended up in a tie for fifth. Scott Parel came from well off the pace with a sizzling bogey-free 63 to lap the field and claim his first title since 2018.

    DiMarco played better toward the end of his rookie season and now has his best finish off which to build. He says he plans to play a full schedule this year and is eager for the next stretch. That stretch includes Omni Tucson, long a PGA TOUR venue when DiMarco was posting three victories and finishing in the top 30 on the money list for six consecutive years, and Newport Beach Country Club, a favorite of DiMarco’s.

    A confident DiMarco, especially with the flat stick, could mean big things ahead.

    “For me, the main thing is my confidence is coming back,” DiMarco said. “If you had asked me last year realistically if I think I could have won, I would have told you I don’t think I could have. I just had to find it.

    “The more you’re up by the lead, you get comfortable there. I won’t be disappointed if I don’t win this year, but certainly I would be disappointed if I don’t have a bunch more chances. I think I will, and that’s my goal -- to have a bunch more chances. That’s what you have to do in order to win. You have to give yourself a chance on the back nine on Sunday.”

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