Jun 20th, 2016
GolfPunk Driscoll wins Nashville Open
Welcome back to the winner's circle, Driz!
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty Images
When our pal James Driscoll narrowly lost his PGA Tour card in 2014 we feared he might struggle to 'get it back'. Aged 38, he'd be coming up against the young gun future PGA stars, and he would no longer be able to use his belly putter...
Then last December he was rumagging around in Steve Marino's garage when he found an old school Wilson 8802 putter. “When I realized I couldn’t use a belly (putter) anymore, I wanted the most low-tech putter I could find,” Driscoll said. “I saw it in his garage and just said, ‘Hey, do you mind if I take this?’ He said, ‘Nope, not at all.’”
So, great, just crack on, wield the new flat stick like some magic golf wand and start winning... Except that the Driz missed seven of his first eight cuts in 2016. The last missed cut of that stretch, though, was when everything began to change. He found something in his third-round 65 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYNNEX Corporation, and promptly made the cut in his last two starts, including a season-best T29 at last week’s Rust-Oleum Championship.
Yesterday he holed out his second shot at the par-4 12th hole for eagle to break away from a packed leaderboard beneath him at the inaugural Nashville Golf Open for his second career Web.com Tour victory. His 160-yard hole-out for eagle was sandwiched between birdies at No. 11 and No. 13, completing a 4-under, three-hole stretch on the back nine to secure his first Web.com Tour title since 2004.
His 19-under 269 edged out Brian Campbell by three shots and the $99,000 winner’s check moved him up to No. 17 on the money list from No. 144.
“That was a great four days,” said Driz, who last won at the 2004 Virginia Beach Open. “I think I did a great job of staying out of my own way. I think that’s huge. I think that’s something I’ve been dealing with for a long time and haven’t really realized it until recently. Kept trying too hard and just got to let go and let the subconscious take over and things fall into place.”
The 38-year-old veteran led by just one entering the 11th hole at Nashville Golf and Athletic Club, but he hit an 8-iron to 20 feet and holed the putt for birdie to begin a torrid three-hole stretch. He followed up his third birdie of the day at the 11th with the shot of the tournament – another 8-iron approach that found the bottom of the cup at the 12th and shut the door on the field.
“Didn’t hit it perfectly but it was on line, mis-hit it a little bit,” he said, “but I told it to get up and it listened and went right in the hole.”
“I just couldn’t be more grateful for this win,” he said. “Felt like I’ve always put the hard work in, but at some point in this game it comes down to getting out of your own way. It’s cliché but it’s true. I think I’ve been getting in my way own way for a long time. It was good enough this week.”
Despite 240 career PGA TOUR starts on his CV (including playoff losses at the 2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and 2009 Valero Texas Open), the Driz had struggled in recent years with his last top-10 finish on the TOUR or Web.com Tour coming nearly three years ago at the AT&T National on June 30, 2013.
After a 115th-place finish on the Web.com Tour money list a year ago, he was certain he was headed back to second stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, but found out a month after applying that he was able to utilize a one-time exemption for full status on the Web.com Tour as a player with five consecutive years on the PGA TOUR under his belt.
What's In The Bag?
Here’s what was in Driscoll’s bag this week in the Music City:
Driver: TaylorMade AeroBurner, 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade RocketBallz, 14.5 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Idea Super Pro
Irons (4-9): TaylorMade RSi
Wedges (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees): TaylorMade Tour Preferred
Putter: Wilson 8802