Trahan Wouldnt Miss Mississippi

By Brian HewittSeptember 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Viking ClassicD. J. Trahan was born in Atlanta, attended Clemson University and lives in South Carolina. So it was no surprise last year when Madison, Mississippi elevated his comfort zone to a level that enabled Trahan to capture his first PGA TOUR victory.
The event, now known as the Viking Classic and the second stop on the TOURs Fall Series, takes place at Annandale Golf Club. And Trahan cant wait to get back.
I like the golf course, he says. It feels like home here to me. The people are great. Its kind of a laid back week.
To be sure, Madison, located just 10 miles from the state capital of Jackson, is ranked as Mississippis safest city. It also owns a spot among the 10 best for families in the U.S.
In its own civic literature, Madison describes itself as, a once small farming community ... now your password to the best the world has to offer: Small town flavor nestled close to the amenities of a large metropolitan area.
Nestled inside the city limits is Annandale GC, where Trahan held off a furious Sunday rally last year by Joe Durant. Durant fired a final-round 66 that forced a playoff with Trahan, who closed with a 71.
But Trahan, who would become the TOURs first wire-to-wire leader to record his first win since Tim Herron won the Honda Classic in 1996, raised his game for the playoff.
Specifically, he birdied the par-5 18th three straight times, capped by a 5-footer that ended the tournament when Durant missed a 5-footer of his own.
Just pulled it a little bit, Durant said.
Trahan, still only 26 years old, was a little more forthcoming afterward. Nothing really changed, to be honest with you, in the playoff, he said. I was striking the ball the same. I made the putt on 17 and I made the putts in the playoff.
I dont feel like I was striking it any different or my mentality with the putter was any different. But fortunately for me those putts were going in, unlike the ones earlier in the day.
Don Trahan, D.J.s father and a noted golf teacher, was stranded because of weather, and wasnt in Mississippi to witness his sons breakthrough. Instead, he had to keep up with D.J.s progress that Sunday over the phone. Of course there were tears at the end, the elder Trahan said. This is what its all about. This is what his life has been all about since the day he started walking.
And along with the $540,000 first prize, Trahan was exempt on TOUR through 2008. It, so to speak, validates that a player is out on TOUR, Don Trahan said of the first win. There are a lot of guys who have gone years without sniffing losing their cards. But they havent won.
Another reason D.J. Trahan wants to get back to Mississippi is to rediscover his form of last year. Through the TOUR Championship he had played in 26 events with just two top-10s. He shot 66-68 on the weekend at the Shell Houston Open to grab a back door top-10 (T8) and he carded four rounds in the 60s to finish tied for seventh at Colonial.
A perusal of Trahans stats reveals a much-needed improvement in putting. The driving and ball-striking have been terrific. But he ranks 172nd in putting average. As of mid-September he was in the top 10 in both ball-striking and total driving.
Annandale plays to a relatively short (by PGA TOUR standards) 7,199 yards. The purse for the Viking Classic is $3.5 million.
The Fall Series picks up after leaving Mississippi at the Valero Texas Open and from there moves, in order, to the Open, the Frys Electronics Open, the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro and the Childrens Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart.
The latter, still played at Walt Disney Resort in Florida, will mark the end of the official TOUR money list for 2007. The top 125 on that list will get their TOUR cards for 2008.
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