MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Brendon Todd rediscovered his golf game by practicing a swing tip he learned from his instructor Bradley Hughes in a messy, unfinished storage room in their Georgia basement that he and wife, Rachel, call “The Go Room,” because that’s where their kids like to go and run and around.
“I heard an announcer say, ‘Maybe he should finish his basement.’ I kind of like it that way,” Todd said. “I can hit some balls, go get away from whatever, whatever’s going on upstairs when I go down there.”
Todd, 35, already has won twice this season and he’s gunning for what would be the biggest title of his career at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He grabbed the 36-hole by two strokes over Rickie Fowler after shooting a bogey-free 5-under 65 at TPC Southwind on Friday.
The resurrection of Todd’s game arguably has been the story of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season. Even Rachel, who clapped when Todd made putts on Friday and kissed him behind the 18th green after the round said she was surprised to see him continuing to play so well after the suspension of the Tour season in March.
“But we’ll take it,” she said.
Indeed, the Todds will after enduring a dip into the abyss as he suffered from the driver yips and missed 37 cuts in 41 starts between 2016 and 2018. He’s come out the other end and playing the best golf of his life.
“This is definitely the most confident I’ve ever felt with my golf game,” he said. “It’s probably the most versatile I’ve ever been ball-striking-wise. I still don’t hit it far, but I feel like I’m able to shape shots a little bit. And my short game’s solid, so it just kind of comes down to how the putting is.”
The putter has always been Todd’s secret weapon, and it was in rare form in the second round. Todd canned more than 153 feet of putts and ranked first in Strokes Gained: putting this week.
“As good as it gets,” Todd said of his performance with the flatstick. “I think there’s only one putt I would like to have back, and I holed so many other ones that you can’t gripe about it.”
No griping about the big breaking 50-foot left-to-right birdie over a mound that he canned at the par-3 14th hole.
“I just focused all on speed. It happened to just drift right there in the middle of the hole,” he said. “Bonus birdie there, but that’s what you’ve got to do to win golf tournaments sometimes and that’s how you shoot low rounds.”
As for the one putt he wished he had back?
“The downhill seven-footer for birdie on 3; it was pretty straight and I just pushed it a little bit,” he said.
Todd will have to practice from that length next time he is home. In April, during the suspension of play due to the pandemic, Todd had a 3,000-square-foot synthetic putting green installed in the backyard by Tour Greens of Charlotte with three levels and a 4-foot shelf.
“It was our quarantine project,” Rachel Todd said. “It’s our son’s new favorite hangout.”
So far this week, Todd’s caddie Don Gadberry needed oven mitts to handle the putter, which helped him get up and down on 11 of 12 occasions through 36 holes.
“That’s OK with me,” Gadberry said, “I like it when the putter is warm.”
Todd, who had plummeted to No. 2006 in the world and entered the tournament at No. 51, already has wrapped up the Comeback Player of the Year award, but if he can continue to play the way he is the journeyman pro could be the most unheralded player to win Player of the Year.
“I think I’m focused a little bit more on individual events…than I am a title at the end of the year that’s voted on by people – I don’t even know who votes on it, to be honest with you.”
If he can go the distance this week, Todd would be the first player to win three times in this abbreviated season.