With hot putter, Dickerson eating up Le Triomphe

Bubba Dickerson believes he is overcoming the mental lapses that hurt him in the past.
March 27, 2009
Dave Lagarde, PGATOUR.com Contributor

BROUSSARD, La. -- Mindy Dickerson steadfastly insisted that she didn't have anything to do with her husband's second-round success at the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries on Friday at soggy Le Triomphe Country Club.

Inside the Numbers
Dickerson thru 36 Holes
Category Total Rank
Eagles 1 T2
Birdies 8 T22
Pars 24 T36
Bogeys 3 T85
Double Bogeys 0 N/A
Other 0 N/A
Driving Accuracy 76.9% T36
Driving Distance 288.0 yds. T25
Greens in Regulation 72.2% T43
Putts per Round 28.0 T88
Putts per GIR 1.692 T19
Sand Saves 0.0 T58

"I really didn't say very much,'' Mindy said, shrugging after her spouse, Bubba, put the finishing touches on a 7-under-par 64 that put him in a challenging weekend position in the tournament, whose normal flow has been severely skewered by two lightning-and-thunder-laden overnight downpours that delayed the start of the first and second rounds. "I just acted as a sounding board.''

Mindy Dickerson thought for a minute before adding, "and I made some crawfish etouffe.''

While that's not exactly akin to sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express, Bubba Dickerson's eyes did light up when the etouffe, an aromatic Cajun Country comfort food, was mentioned.

"She tells me all the time she could live here,'' he said of this low-lying slice of south-central Louisiana that is noted for its exotic culinary delights. "That's how much she loves the food.''

Dickerson, the 2001 U.S. Amateur champion, ate up the 7,006-yard, par-71 Le Triomphe track Friday, thanks to his work on the sprawling greens. That's the facet of the game he believes has held him back through the first four events of the 2009 Nationwide Tour season. And that's what he talked about to Mindy over the etouffe.

"Bubba said the first round was exactly like his others this year,'' Mindy said. "He wasn't dissatisfied. He just didn't get much out of them.''

Prior to Friday, Dickerson's best in '09 was a pair of opening-round 69s in Panama and Australia. This effort marked the first time he started well and didn't hit a wall. So imagine the relief.

"I just wasn't making many birdies,'' he said. "I had rounds with one birdie and one bogey, with two birdies and two bogeys, with three birdies and two bogeys. I couldn't seem to get anything going where I got freed up.

"You can't see it on the stats, but there wasn't anything wrong with my ball striking. My putter was letting me down.''

That wasn't the case Friday, when Dickerson had a string of eight consecutive one-putt greens -- he rang up an eagle, four birdies and three pars -- on his way to 26 putts. It was far and away his best performance in a year in which his best finish thus far is a tie for 51st.

"I just hope it gets hotter as the week goes on,'' he said referring to the flat stick. "It all comes down to putting for me.''

Dickerson, who is still searching for his first Nationwide Tour victory, appeared headed toward a banner season in 2008. He had three top-10s early and put himself in great position for three more big paydays down the stretch, but he faded over the final nine holes in Scranton, Pa., Midland, Texas, and Sandy, Utah.

"I looked back at what happened after the season and realized I left a lot of money on the table,'' said Dickerson, who finished 32nd on the final money list, falling about $29,000 short of getting into 'The 25' and earning PGA TOUR playing privileges. "I had my chances with nine holes to go, but I just didn't finish off those tournaments. And all I needed was one and I probably get my card.''

A few too many mental errors were at the root of the problem, Dickerson said. One of aggression off the tee led to a back-breaking triple bogey. He picked the wrong club for an approach on another, made bogey and started a downhill slide.

Dickerson felt he also had a letdown in the Oregon Classic presented by the Kendall Automotive Group, where he was within a stroke of leader Matt Bettencourt with two holes to play.

"I hit what I thought were two good approach shots on the last two holes,'' he said. "But I needed one more club on each. I came up short and made a par and (three-putt) bogey.''

There were no such lapses Friday as Dickerson roared out of the blocks, going 5 under through seven holes. He notched two more birdies on 11 and 12 and had visions of taking it seriously deep. But a bogey and a birdie were all he could muster.

Nevertheless, Dickerson left Le Triomphe buoyed because he saw putts disappearing into the cup.

"I've been having trouble reading the greens this year,'' said Dickerson, who wears contacts to correct nearsightedness. "I was reading an article about that and it seems people who are nearsighted tend to read the greens flatter. But I've been taking my time reading them this week. I want to check everything, including the grain. It worked today.''

The object is for the method to work for at least 36 more holes in this disjointed event, where the second round was suspended by darkness for the second consecutive day. The water-logged jumble made it difficult to project who will own the halfway lead, but the good news for Dickerson who rests at 7-under 135 is, he won't be too far back when the third round begins, eventually.