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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 192
F ORGIVE us this cross-sport comparison, but it seems fitting that on the day the final chapter of the greatest underdog story in English Premier League history was written, a similarly unlikely tale was unfolding on the PGA Tour. Tomorrow Brian Stuard might not have teed off at the Zurich Classic at the same astronomical 5000-1 odds as Leicester City began its EPL campaign, but in golf wagering, the 350-1 on offer for him at the start of the tournament is about as far out of punters’ collective consideration as you could possibly get. But to hell with probabilities and possibilities, Stuard said. He’s now a first-time winner on the PGA Tour, after surviving two playoff holes against Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An at a rain-shortened event at TPC Louisiana. This is a player who’d made just three of six cuts this season, as well as just 17 of 31 last year, with one top- 10 result among them. In 219 starts on the PGA Tour and web.com Tour, he’d never taken home a winner’s cheque. By rights, he had no business being anywhere near the top of a leaderboard, and yet here we are. How did he do it? Well if 33-year-old Stuard wasn’t superstitious before, he’s almost certain to be now, after picking up a new putter for the first time last week and instantly having the first success of his career. “I picked it up off the putting green last week in San Antonio and it just felt good in my hands,” he said. “I wish I knew what the difference was. But it was a nice feeling. I think it’ll be in my bag for a while.” After holing every single one of his 46 putts from inside 10 feet across three stop-start days of golf, Stuard should be taking his new flatstick to be framed, except he’s unlikely to let it out of his sight – or his bag – any time soon. He was the only player in the field to play the entire event without a single bogey. Lovemark, on the other hand, was left to wonder what might have been, after blowing two chances to win the tournament – missing a birdie putt inside 10 feet at the final hole, and then another from 12 feet at the first playoff hole – the 587-yard 18th. With Stuard having rifled his third shot at the par-5
GA Express 191
GA Express 193