AVONDALE, La. – Ben Martin was more nervous trying to break 30 than 60.
Trying to shoot a sub-30 score for the first time in his career, the 26-year-old whiffed a 5-footer on the ninth hole at TPC Louisiana.
“I got that out of the way,” he said, smiling.
Indeed, that freed him up mentally for a solid back nine, as he made birdie on three of his next four holes for a course-record, 10-under 62 that gave him a two-shot lead at the Zurich Classic.
“That was as good as I’ve played since … I can’t remember when,” said Martin, whose 62 was his best score ever in competition. “It was one of those days that you dream about.”
Martin said he never seriously thought about shooting 59, even when he was 8 under through 11 holes and 9 under with five holes to go.
That said, Martin said he went flag-hunting with a hybrid from 257 yards on the par-5 finishing hole. If he holed it, he would have shot golf’s magic number. Instead, his approach found the greenside bunker, and he settled for 62, topping the course record by two.
It’s been a strange season for Martin, who won twice last year on the Web.com Tour. Prior to last week’s event, he had missed seven of his last eight cuts, but during the Masters he had a sit-down with his sports psychologist.
Last year on the developmental circuit, Martin’s goal was to win twice, knowing that would be enough to claim his PGA Tour card. He carried that same objective into this season, but when his year quickly went south he knew he had to change his results-oriented goal or wind up back in the minors.
The week after that meeting, Martin played in the final group during the third round of the Heritage and finished in a tie for third. Now, his aim is to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.
Said Martin, “I think that enables me to take it week by week and not put so much pressure on results, but focusing more on just the process and playing well each week, each day, each shot.”