Last year at this time Durant was arguably the hottest player in golf. He finished 2006 with five straight top 10s including a victory at the FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort.
If you havent won in a long time, you go from tunnel vision to spray vision, Durant said that day in Orlando after the win. Disney was his first victory since prevailing at at Doral in 2001. And it spearheaded a late 2006 charge that would leave him with a career best 13th place finish on the money list.
Durant also closed last year with 17 straight rounds of par or better and Player of the Month honors for October/November.
Now Durant is looking for a little dj-vu-all-over-again. And hes hoping it will begin for him at the Turning Stone Resort Championship that begins next Thursday at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, New York where a full field of PGA TOUR players will compete for an eye-popping six million dollar purse.
Turning Stone will also mark the kickoff of the 7-event 2007 Fall Series where players will, among other things, be looking to secure their cards for 2008 and nail down a variety of berths in 2008 major championships and invitationals. For example, the top 30 players on the season-ending money list will receive invitations to next Aprils Masters.
Durant is exempt on TOUR through 2008 thanks to his Disney win. But hed dearly love to get back to Augusta. A top 10 finish at Turning Stone would be his first of the year and would provide the kind of momentum he needs to make a jump from the money list doldrums where he currently is languishing at No. 121.
I feel like I need to try and redeem this year, Durant said recently. I need a fall like I had last year. So hopefully I can start cranking things up a little bit.
Atunyote Golf Club, near Syracuse, is a 7,315-yard Tom Fazio design that got pressed into service last year when flooding forced this event to move from nearby En-Joie Golf Club. The 2006 winner was John Rollins, who stormed to victory with an 8-under closing 64.
For his part, Durant dropped out of the FedExCup race the first week of the playoffs at The Barclays. He had finished tied for 18th at the PGA Championship and tied for 14th a week earlier at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But he realizes now it was too little too late for the FedExCup.
You need to come out of the box (this year) a little quicker, he said. I started very slowly.
Now he has seven events to make amends. They are, in order, Turning Stone, the Viking Classic, the Valero Texas Open, the Frys.com Open, the Frys Electronics Open, the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro, and a defense at Disney World in what is now called the Childrens Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart.
Durant led the TOUR in driving accuracy last year and was a respectable 93d in driving distance. Those numbers have dropped significantly this year to sixth in driving accuracy and 126th in driving distance.
Certainly, the $1.08 million dollar first prize at Turning Stone will also serve as incentive to Durant and the rest of what shapes up to be a strong field.
The Viking Classic, which comes the week after Turning Stone, was where Durant lost in a three-hole playoff last year to first-time winner D.J. Trahan. Durant fired a sizzling 66, the low round of the final day at Annandale Golf Club to make up five shots on Trahan. But Trahans birdie on the final hole of the playoff kept Durant from being a two-time winner in 2006.
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