Brendon Todd knows first-hand the roller coaster life that comes with being a PGA Tour pro. His win at the Byron Nelson Championship in May may have seemed like the typical overnight success story, but Todd's career has been anything but.
A three-time North Carolina state high school champion and four-year All-American at Georgia, Todd appeared destined for stardom once he reached the PGA Tour. But he lost his card after a dismal rookie season, survived qualifying school and eventually made enough money on the Web.com Tour to earn a return in 2014.
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Todd, a native of Pittsburgh who now lives in the Atlanta area, was on hand earlier this month at the Standard Club in Johns Creek, Ga., for a demonstration of TaylorMade Golf's new RSi irons. We had an opportunity to ask Todd about his career, his goals and his family life. And here are his responses:
When did you first start playing golf, and who were your biggest influences?
I started playing when I was about 5. I have two older brothers that are two years apart and I was fortunate that my dad had a country club membership when I was little. He used to come home on the weekends and take us out there. In the summer, when I was 7 to 11, my mom would drop us off at the club in the morning and we'd go play 18 and then go to the pool in the afternoon. That's sort of how I got into it. My brothers and my dad were definitely my biggest influences growing up. We always played together and competed against each other.
Was there anybody on the PGA Tour that you looked up to during your time as a junior?
Probably my three favorite guys growing up were Davis Love, Fred Couples and Tiger Woods. They were just the guys who were the good American players and I loved watching them.
Why have University of Georgia alumni been so successful on the PGA Tour in recent years?
Nobody in college golf does a better job of making their players feel at home and have a good time in school like Coach (Chris) Haack. He recruits guys who know how to play golf, so he says "come to Georgia, I've got good facilities, I've got a killer schedule and I'm going to make you qualify for your spot." And over the course of time, if you're good enough, you're going to qualify, you're going to play, you're going to compete and you're going to get better.
That system breeds good team chemistry, which breeds success, so every guy is getting better by playing and competing all the time. And what he doesn't do is ruin your game by trying to teach you.
How did the victory at the Byron Nelson Championship change your mental attitude?
First of all, it's a huge dream come true. It's something marked off the check list. It's something you always want to do is win on the PGA Tour. But it opens a lot of doors and provides a lot of opportunities. I played in the last three majors of the year and the Tour Championship. Those are all things that came from that win.
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I think, going forward, it keeps me hungry to try to win again because it was thrilling and rewarding and everything you think it will be. It's something I want to do many more times in my career.
Does it prove your mental toughness, to be placed in that situation and come through?
It does. I've won at every level. I won a bunch of junior tournaments, I won three times in college and twice on the Web.com Tour. I feel good when I've been in that position. But I haven't had as many opportunities as a lot of guys. I've always struggled trying to put four under-par rounds together. So for me, the key is getting more consistent from tee to green and getting in the hunt more often, so I not only have the chance to fail, but perhaps to win. Nobody's going to win every time.
Today's PGA Tour professionals have to adapt quickly to advances in club technology. How do you reach a comfort level to know when it's the right time to add new equipment to your bag?
You've got to be with a company that you trust and like, like I do with TaylorMade. Everything they bring out has been tested by Tour pros. And I think you've got to go through the proper steps for putting them in your bag. You've got to go out there to Carlsbad (California) or early in the week, spend the time with the golf representatives to make sure you've got the right shafts, the right lie and loft.
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When you get those things in there -- the right shaft, lie and loft -- you trust that everything's going to be like your old irons. Except it's the new technology. So you feel like you can only play better. You just have to go out there and trust it. Confidence is paramount in this game.
Where is your confidence level now, based on your 2014 results?
It's really high from a competitiveness standpoint. I feel like I'm deserving of my place on tour and feel like I can win again. But I also did a good job of evaluating my season and on the areas which I think I can improve and get better at. I'm excited about that challenge ahead.
How has having a new baby changed your life?
It's fun. A little less sleep but a lot more joy. We're having a good time with it. He's just an awesome kid, three weeks old now and it'll be different traveling with him. It's just been my wife and I traveling for the last seven years. Now we've got another life to take care of.
It seems like you gravitate toward the people like you, so I've got a lot of friends on tour who have kids already, so I'm sure there will be plenty of chatter and advice back and forth about how to parent.
Over the years, Bubba Watson has proven to be one of the most electrifying players on the PGA Tour.
Sunday at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai was merely the latest example. Yes, Watson is known and admired most for his booming drives. But, as we've seen, his short game is pretty darn good too. Whether it was the hooking sand-wedge that set up his first Masters win in 2012, or the bunker shot he holed for eagle on Sunday to force a playoff in China, Watson has it all.
Lost because of that amazing eagle hole-out, however, may have been his winning birdie putt on the same hole a few minutes later.
Here's another look at that 25-footer that sealed Watson's first victory in a World Golf Championships event:
As you can see -- length aside -- that was a roller coaster of a putt. To be able to muster up the poise and harness the adrenaline surely running through his body moments after that hole-out shows you just how talented Watson is.
Oh... and talk about buckling down. Watson played the last three holes in regulation bogey, double bogey, eagle to force the playoff. It shows you the maturity that's growing in his game. It would have been very easy to have a let down on the final hole after blowing up on 16 and 17. Instead, Watson realized he still had a chance to win the tournament and seized the opportunity.
Not only did this shot give Bubba Watson an eagle, but it also forced a playoff at the HSBC Champions that he would go on to win. All of this came after he saw his two-shot lead with three holes fade away.
Here's the video of Watson's shot:
The shot is even more impressive when you consider that he had to stop his swing on his first attempt when a camera distracted him.
This isn't the first incredible shot we've seen from Bubba at Shanghai. During the third round, Watson nearly carded an albatross on the eighth hole. He missed that by inches but then had to settle for birdie after two putting.
Bubba Watson finished the third round two shots off the lead. He came inches from possibly being tied with Graeme McDowell had things broken his way.
On the par-5 603-yard eighth hole, Watson's second shot just missed the hole by inches. He ended up two-putting and carding a birdie 4.
That was his third birdie of the day and moved him 9-under for the weekend.
His back nine was just as up and down as his adventure on No. 8. He made a double-bogey 6 on the 10th hole, and made birdie on four of the final five holes.