Chris Stroud might be the happiest guy at Quail Hollow
Update: Chris Stroud continues to ace the interview game at Quail Hollow. Here's what he had to say after finishing the weather-delayed second round early Saturday morning. Check out his answer to the second question for a detail about how watching Tiger Woods helped him learn to play Quail Hollow.
Q. Can you talk about the last 18 hours and how you regrouped this morning?
CHRIS STROUD: Normally I would be extremely tired. I would be worn out, sore. Coming out this morning not wanting to be here, beat up. But I have used so little energy.
I'm taking the same concept I used last week. I don't practice. I warm up in the morning and I go play. I just do the same exact thing. I'm using very little energy.
Most important, when I'm playing, I'm using very little energy. I'm focused on my shot and then I'm talking about something else. That's been a big key for me, especially if I go four in a row. I'm going to play Greensboro next week. I may go four more in a row. We've already played -- this is six. I've never gone more than five or six in my career. So I know I've got to pace myself.
I'm careful with my time. I'm not in the gym spending -- making my muscles sore, which I normally am. I hydrate, drinking tons and tons of fluids. I'm eating clean, and that's a big part of it. At the end of the day, the most important part is keeping my mind simple and not stressed, that way you don't burn all the energy up.
Q. What is it that Quail Hollow that meets your eye well?
CHRIS STROUD: This is actually one of my favorite golf courses. Years ago, maybe the last time Tiger played here, maybe the second to the last time he played really well. I want to say '09 or '10.
I missed the cut here a couple of times and I was like, Man, this course is so difficult. I watched Tiger that day. I think it was Friday or Saturday. And I remember on No. 4, which is now No. 3, I hit it down the middle of the fairway. I remember the back left pin, I was trying to hit a draw to the pin. I hit it in the middle of the green, 3-putt and make bogey. I missed the cut by one or two.
I watched Tiger, he hits like a 6-iron, but he's slicing it into there. I'm thinking why would you hit a fade to that pin. He missed the green, chipped it in from the left side.
I thought about that, I looked at my book and I thought he's chipping straight uphill. So watching him for the rest of the round, I watched him. He puts the ball -- he's always uphill. If he's chipping, his bunkers, he's always uphill. A light bulb went off. I said you know what, I've got to do in a next year.
So the next year I came out, I always worked the ball to the uphill. So if it was a right pin, normally I would cut it in there. But if you cut it and the slope is to the right, you are actually going away from the hole and it's going to go off the green. I'm trying to draw it into the pin, which I normally wouldn't.
Long story short, watching him helped me realize my strategy was wrong for the golf course. I changed everything. I started working the ball a little bit more off the tee into the greens and I've played well ever since.
Q. With the anticipated wet weather today and you in a very good position on the leaderboard, what kind of strategy this afternoon is going to work?
CHRIS STROUD: Same thing. Stay relaxed. That's a key for me. I've got a lot of weeks in a row. I'm playing well. There's no reason for me to worry about anything. I'm putting well. I'm chipping well.
I didn't hit it very good this morning, I was a little tight. I'll come out and I'm sure I'll figure out something on the range when I get back out. But nothing's changed. Simple. Stay simple. Don't get distracted by the media. Don't get distracted by the cameras. Don't get distracted by playing with Jason Day or Matsuyama or whomever I'm going to end up playing well. These guys are No. 1 in the world and they've been in these situations many times.
At the end of the day, I've been in these situations just not in majors. At the end of the day, it's the same. It's the same. I keep telling myself it's not that big a deal because it's really not. What was more important to me is that my family is here with me. I'm living my dream and I'm just going to enjoy every second of it.
Q. What are your plans during this four, four and a half hour break?
CHRIS STROUD: I'm going to go back and look at the weather a little bit. Go back to the hotel. Clean up. I sweated a ton this morning. Change clothes, take a shower. Just rest and do the same thing I would if I were coming in for a late tee time.
I usually show up about two hours before, eat a little food, get my body moving a little bit and stretch it out, then I go straight to the range and warm up.
We'll continue to update this story as Stroud continues to contend for the PGA Championship.
Stroud won the Barracuda Championship last week — his first PGA Tour win in 290 starts — in a three-man playoff with Greg Owen and rookie Richy Werenski to earn his spot in this week's field. He and his caddy high-tailed it to the PGA Championship where he then shot 68 in Thursday's first round and is a shot back in the hunt for the Wanamaker Trophy.
Oh yeah, and he and his caddy might have discovered the secret of golf. Check out what he had to say after that first-round 68:
On the reaction to his first PGA Tour win: "1400 text messages, 55 voicemails, and probably another 100 emails. I have replied to every single one of them. I'm a big believer in that. I told a few guys after golf is gone and done for me, all you have left is people and the relationships you have. I care more about people than I do about my golf. I was raised that way. I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have a chance to play on the tour and stay healthy."
On the quick turnaround between tournaments: "Very difficult. I have been on the road for five weeks in a row. My plan was to go to Houston where I live, see my baby girls and have this week off and then go to Greensboro. Obviously winning got me in here. So I had to go from Reno to here.
"My caddie and I, we found -- we had to drive two hours to Sacramento. We got two first class tickets Delta to Atlanta then Atlanta here on Tuesday. I'm sorry, Monday. Lost three hours. Get up late Tuesday. I think I woke up at 11:00. I couldn't tell what time it was. Open the curtains and it's bright. I went to bed at like 2:00."
On chasing his first PGA Tour win: "All these years, I kept telling myself, you are going to win. You are great. Being super positive to myself. Not that that's a bad thing. It was putting a lot of pressure on myself, I didn't know it. I gave up on it.
"About six months ago I said you know what, I've had ten years of good run out here. I've played well. I don't care if I win anymore. I want to win but I can't let that be on my shoulders all the time. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm going to play the best I can and let's just ride this out. I don't know if I'm good enough. I don't know if I'm good enough to win or keep my card. And since I surrendered to that, it's like all the sudden things got -- the weight is off my shoulders. All these people have told me this for years. To actually do that, I had to get to the bottom to figure that out. I literally just said you know what I'm done. I'm just going to do the best I can and have as much fun as I can. All of a sudden it falls in my lap."
On his caddy's mental trick: The truth is my caddie is -- any time I start talking about golf, he says, no, no, we're not going to talk about golf. Stay distracted. I have used so little energy out there, it's incredible.
"(We talk about) anything but golf. We talk about science. We talk about spirituality, baseball, football, Texans, Houston Astros. Anything to keep my mind off golf. As soon as I hit it, I'm talking about something else. If I say something he goes, hey, hey, hey, we don't care about golf. It's just an experiment we tried last week and it absolutely worked."