Kizzire rides 'little grooves' into debut

Kizzire [ASSOCIATED PRESS]

More than a decade into his professional career, Patton Kizzire is still looking for consistency in his golf game. He’d like to play what he calls boring golf someday but knows it probably won’t happen.

“My golf game is a roller coaster,” the former Auburn golfer said. “It always has been. I’m up and down and all around. So I’m used to roller coasters. That’s what I’ve always done, and I’m able to handle it, I guess.”

When he’s up, Kizzire is really up. In November, he won for the first time on the PGA Tour, in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico. Three starts later, he won the Sony Open in Hawaii.

“I find little grooves here and there and I ride them out,” he said. “When I’m not in the groove, it’s a battle.”

Because of all the battles he’s fought on the course, Kizzire is not easily rattled. When he won at the Sony, there had been a false alarm about a ballistic missile before the third round and Kizzire still went out and shot 64. He followed it with 68 and beat James Hahn on the sixth hole of a sudden-death playoff.

“Amongst all that, I was able to focus on playing golf, and I was glad to get the win,” Kizzire said.

Kizzire had gone 62 PGA Tour events without a win before breaking through in Mexico. The fact he’d had two runner-up finishes before winning didn’t surprise him.

“At every level I’ve had a lot of near misses and kind of got the scars and the experience before I was able to break through,” he said. “Just like on the Web.com Tour, I was able to get a couple of wins after I had those near misses. So at every level, I’ve had to work my way up. It’s pretty similar here (on the PGA Tour). There have been some close calls. I’m glad to finally punch my ticket to the Masters," which he did by winning at Mayakoba.

Kizzire, along with 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year Justin Thomas, were the only players with multiple PGA Tour wins this season through the Arnold Palmer Invitational in mid-March. Thomas won the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in October and the Honda Classic in February.

The secret to winning twice in four starts, Kizzire said, is “you’ve just got to ride the wave and keep your confidence going. That’s what I did for a while.”

Kizzire vaulted to the top of the FedEx Cup standings after each of those victories. He’s topped the standings five times this season and was second going into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“The first win was big, and this one is even bigger,” he said after winning the Sony Open, “to get a leg up on the FedEx Cup and go back to No. 1. Our ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the year. We’ve got a long way to go. A fast start is always a positive. I’m looking forward to taking that cup.”

And more wins.

“I’m just going to keep working hard,” he said. “I love playing golf. I love trying to get better and putting myself in uncomfortable spots. That’s all I want to do is just to be somewhere that I’ve never been because that gets me uncomfortable. That’s when I know I’m doing something right.”

Kizzire, who is from Tuscaloosa, Ala., said he attended the Masters Tournament a few times with his family growing up.

“I’m looking forward to my first Masters,” he said. “I played it (Augusta National Golf Club) about two months ago. I’m looking forward to playing it in tournament conditions.”

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