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Despite sore knee, Dicky Pride maximizes sponsor exemption at Chubb Classic

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Despite sore knee, Dicky Pride maximizes sponsor exemption at Chubb Classic

Finishes T4 to earn a spot in this week’s Cologuard Classic

    Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour

    Thirty pounds lighter than he was last year but still hobbled by a bum right knee, Dicky Pride is hopeful his stellar play in 2023 is here to stay.

    Through three events on PGA TOUR Champions, Pride is 11th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings after finishing in a tie for fourth at the Chubb Classic. It was better than any result he had in 2022.

    “That was better than I played all last year,” Pride, 53, said. “I hit the ball very well, had good control pretty much every day. Played a great round of golf in the final round (Pride shot 68 on Sunday and had the lead alone on the back nine). I’m just so appreciative of the people at Chubb who gave me this opportunity.”

    Dicky Pride makes hole-in-one on No. 10 at Chubb Classic

    Pride’s 2022 season was defined by struggle, especially after the smashing success of his first season on PGA TOUR Champions.

    In the pandemic-elongated 2020-21 season, the Alabama native won once, lost in a playoff and finished in the top 36 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings to secure his playing privileges for the next year. He played in 27 events with 15 top-25s and three top-10s.

    Pride teed it up 24 times last year and managed only one top-10 and seven top-25s. He suffered a torn meniscus en route to missing the cut at the U.S. Senior Open at the end of June and posted more finishes outside the top 50 (six) than inside the top 25 (two) after that. He tumbled to 56th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, lost his playing privileges for 2023 and had to go to Q-School, which didn’t go well either.

    So with next-to-no status, Pride spent the offseason swallowing his pride and writing to every tournament asking for a sponsor exemption. It’s what got him into the Chubb; his top-10 finish there against a field that included Bernhard Langer, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington and Fred Couples earned him a spot in this week’s Cologuard Classic.

    Pride is hoping his knee can hold out as long as his good play does.

    “If I get surgery, I’ll miss anywhere from three to five weeks,” Pride said. “Everybody on the Champions Tour is dealing with some sort of pain or injury, so in the grand scheme it’s not that big of a deal. I have to ice it after every round, but it hasn’t given me too much trouble.

    “If it gets to a point where it’s causing me a lot of pain and is affecting my ability to play, I’ll obviously have to buck up and do it.”

    He didn’t have surgery when it happened because that’s the busiest part of the PGA TOUR Champions schedule, and Pride was hoping to post enough good results to secure full status for 2023. It never panned out, but after his season ended after the first playoff event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, there wasn’t enough time to get the surgery before Q-School.

    He couldn’t do it after Q-School either, because his 2021 win at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic outside Atlanta allowed him entry to this year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in January. It’s a limited-field event, so it was too good to pass up. Pride tied for 18th.

    So what spurred the offseason weight loss?

    “I got home after Richmond (the DECC), looked in a mirror, and I was fat as hell,” Pride said with less of a belly laugh than it would have been a few months ago. “It was the heaviest I’ve ever been. My wife noticed it, too. She said, ‘You don’t realize how much pressure that’s putting on your body.’

    “She has lost some now, so we kind of did it together.”

    Pride didn’t go on any trendy diet. He realized he didn’t need to eat as much as he was eating and simply monitored his intake. It certainly helped that as the pounds came off so did the pressure on the injured knee. Which in turn freed him up to swing with more fluidity.

    Now it’s just a matter of getting into tournaments and posting results similar to what he already has.

    “I was there (in the lead) on Sunday,” Pride said in reference to the Chubb. “I’m disappointed with what happened, but it’s gonna make me better. I liked the way I was playing. I did a lot of good things.”

    Pride has heard from only one tournament in advance. He’ll receive a sponsor exemption for the Insperity Invitational if he doesn’t otherwise qualify, the tournament team has informed him. No other tournaments have said what they’re doing, nor are they required to until they announce their full fields at 5 p.m. ET on the Friday prior to tournament week.

    “I just want to play as much as I can, play well when I do, and we’ll see what happens,” Pride said.

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