Stroud not looking like such a long shot

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The last man in the field could very well be the last man standing at the PGA Championship. Or perhaps Chris Stroud will just be floating.

The PGA Tour veteran has yet to really come down from the high altitude of Nevada after capturing his first title last Sunday at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, where he won a sudden-death playoff against Greg Owen and Richy Werenski.

If that does not strike you as a world-class trio, it's because they were toiling at the PGA Tour's opposite-field event while Hideki Matsuyama was shooting a final-round 61 to capture the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Stroud, 35, who has been playing as a pro for nearly 13 years, was not about to get picky about his win and the stature of the tournament. And the good vibes have continued this week as he is a shot out of the lead at Quail Hollow, playing in just his third major championship.

"It's at least a 20-year dream come true,'' Stroud said.

Ranked 203rd in the world and fighting for his playing privileges a week ago, as he was outside of the top 150 in FedEx Cup points, Stroud is the epitome of the PGA Championship, the major that has the deepest field and often produces some surprising names on the leaderboard.

Kevin Kisner has led every day and stayed a shot out front Saturday with a 1-over-par 72 to finish at 206, 7 under par. The former University of Georgia golfer from South Carolina has two PGA Tour victories, including one earlier this year at the Colonial.

Stroud is a shot back, tied with Matsuyama, who is bidding to become the first Japanese male golfer to win a major championship. Two shots behind the leaders are Justin Thomas and Louis Oosthuizen.

Out of contention are tournament headliners Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Jason Day, who played in the final group Saturday, shot himself out of the tournament with a 77.

Quail Hollow is proving to be quite the stern test, despite overnight rain that softened the fairways but did little to take the fire out of the greens. The course gave many players fits. Day made a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 18th and Rickie Fowler played the last three holes in 4 over par.

Stroud, despite his relative inexperience in major championships, managed to avoid disasters. He did bogey the last two holes, but the amazingly upbeat and positive golfer, who played collegiately at Lamar, hardly let it faze him.

"In college, my nickname was Mr. Positivity,'' Stroud said. "It carried on playing golf. It definitely helped me early on in my career, just overcoming some very difficult situations. This is my 11th season, and to finally get a win is really magical.''


Continue reading at ESPN »