BETHESDA, Md. – They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Chris Stroud doesn’t see it that way.
Playing the 18th hole at TPC River Highlands three times in Sunday’s final round, Stroud pulled driver each time, pounding all three to within 3 feet of each other in the fairway, sitting on a downslope less than 100 yards from the green. He could never get a wedge close, though, chipping in to force a playoff in regulation, and then making two pars in the playoff, the second of which lost to a Ken Duke birdie.
“My caddie and I talked about it afterwards,” Stroud said Tuesday in advance of the AT&T National. “If I would have [hit 3-wood], I would have been putting the bunker left, and maybe that rough on the right, putting that more in play because the fairway gets flat up there about 280 yards, 290, and then it runs. … So if you pull a 3-wood a little bit, you have a chance to go into that bunker. That bunker shot is going to be a lot harder than that 80-yard shot from the fairway.
“I didn't want to take that chance. I already hit two perfect drives down the middle before. I did the same thing. I teed the ball up at the same exact spot, aimed at the same exact tower, and I hit three identical drives right down the middle.”
Looking back on the events from two days earlier, he maintained that while he was disappointed directly afterward, he was still positive about how he forced the playoff and got himself into that position.
“I was frustrated. I couldn't believe I played so well and I still didn't win the golf tournament,” he said. “But after a couple of hours went by and I started seeing all the text messages and calls and pictures and video and people showing me stuff saying, man, how proud they were, it started sinking in. I was like, I've got to be positive about this. I've got to understand it could have easily missed the hole. That chip could have gone by 12, 15 feet and made bogey and finished third and not even have a chance to win the tournament.
“I've got to look at it positively. I hit an awesome chip under the gun. I did everything I possibly could, and then Ken hit a great shot on the second playoff hole to win. To be honest, I've got no regrets. I wouldn't have done anything differently. Ken just won the playoff outright, and I couldn't do anything about it.”