Kevin Kisner nearing PGA Tour record for most playoffs in a season

USA TODAY Sports Images
Kevin Kisner has lost three tournaments in a playoff in the past 12 weeks.
By
Scott Michaux
The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Friday, July 10, 2015 | 8:13 a.m.

It's not a record -- yet -- but there are still 11 more weeks left in the PGA Tour season for Kevin Kisner to set one.

Kisner played his way into his third playoff in a 12-week span last Sunday at Greenbrier, bowing out of a four-man sudden-death scramble on the first extra hole when his 7-iron flew a little too long and left him with a brutal lie in the rough.

One more playoff appearance this year and he'll tie Arnold Palmer (1963) and Jackie Burke (1952) for the all-time Tour standard.

Related: Streb's sand wedge gets special inscription after Greenbrier Classic

Coupled with his earlier playoff losses at Hilton Head (to Jim Furyk) and Sawgrass (to Rickie Fowler), Kisner is the first golfer since two-time Masters champion Horton Smith (1937) to lose three playoffs in the same season.

"Playoffs are kind of a toss-up, in my opinion, at all times," Kisner said. "You never know what's going to happen."

It's been a frustrating run of close encounters as the former Georgia All-American seeks his maiden PGA Tour victory. Yet Kisner maintains a positive attitude about the end results pointing to more then a series of minor setbacks.

"I keep knocking on it, I'll be there soon enough," Kisner said. "I keep playing well, I'll win one of them."

At age 31, Kisner is playing the best golf of his professional career. His $3,080,899 earned his year (eighth on the money list) is nearly double what he made in his three previous full-time seasons combined. He ranks 11th in the PGA Tour's season-long standings -- the highest of any non-winner and higher than 19 players with victories this season.

Most impressively, Kisner has climbed 200 spots in the world ranking to No. 36 -- a perch that not only gets him into the season's last two majors and World Golf Championship event but would qualify him for his first Masters if he stays inside the top 50 at the end of the 2015.

"I'm just happy the way I'm playing," he said. "It's fun to be in these shoes."

His Sunday effort illustrates the state of Kisner's game. Teeing off 90 minutes in front of the third-round leaders, Kisner birdied five of his last 10 holes for 6-under-par 64 to set the early clubhouse lead. His 17-foot birdie putt on the last hole came up 4 inches short of posting the 14-under mark he felt he needed.

"I'm kind of finally in a position where I can just try to win and go for broke now," Kisner said. "I gave it a good shot, hit a lot of quality shots coming down the stretch."

Much of that is due to the continued growth of Kisner's game since he started working with John Tillery, who teaches out of Lane Creek not far from Athens, Ga. He ranks 18th in driving accuracy leading to a No. 20 scoring average.

"I just started hitting the golf ball a lot better, driving it in the fairway," Kisner said. "I think I moved up like 100 spots in driving accuracy from last year to this year. Get the ball in the fairway, you can attack the pins, and that's kind of what's been the most key part to my year."

That breeds an invaluable difference in perspective. In previous seasons on the primary tour, Kisner spent more energy trying to make cuts and maintain his card than trying to win. Now he seeks victories and keeps an eye toward contending in majors.

After tying for 12th on the links-like Chambers Bay at the U.S. Open in June, Kisner is focused on competing in his first Open Championship start at St. Andrews next week.

"You know, it's just confidence," he said of his consistent play that's produced eight consecutive made cuts and five top-10 finishes since April. "Once you get in the fire and show yourself you can do it, you just build confidence each week. I was using week as kind of preparation for the British Open and then having a chance to win is always fun."

Leaderboards: John Deere Classic | Boise Open | Encompass Championship

Kisner will fly to Scotland with Jordan Spieth and fellow peers on the charter Sunday night after playing in the John Deere Classic. He shot 2-under 69 Thursday.

That he came up short again in a playoff isn't getting Kisner down. The same 7-iron that came up short in regulation sailed over the par-3 green into a gnarly lie that Kisner couldn't advance -- much less hole out to advance in the playoff with David Hearn and eventual winner Danny Lee both making birdie.

"I thought it was good in the air," Kisner said. "Probably just a little pumped up. But I'm glad to be in that position."

As long as Kisner keeps playing clutch golf on Sundays to put himself in positions to win, he's not going to complain. He's broken par in nine consecutive final rounds. His 64 on Sunday matched his closing score at Harbour Town, so lamenting not shooting 63 to avoid overtime is hardly productive.

"It would be one thing if I finished double-double to finish," he said. "But if I did that I'd be more upset than playing well and playing solid and giving myself a chance."

This article was written by Scott Michaux from The Augusta Chronicle, Ga. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.