McGirt working to ‘get back on the right track’

By: By Rodd Baxley - [email protected]

GREENSBORO — After missing the cut on a hot, muggy afternoon at Quail Hollow Club on Friday following the second round of the PGA Championship, William McGirt chose to stick around for one more day.

“I worked with my new teacher for about 3 1/2 hours Saturday before I left Quail Hollow and I feel like I have a better understanding of what I am trying to do now,” McGirt told The Robesonian on Monday.

The 38-year-old Fairmont native said he “felt like I’ve been all over the place in what I have been working on” since earning a top-3 finish in the RBC Heritage in April.

After parting ways with his former instructor in June, McGirt was determined to get his game in check.

“(I) was looking for someone new to help me get back on the right track,” he said. “I think I’ve found the right fit for me and I know what I need to work on. It will take some time to get these changes worked in and to be comfortable with the new swing.

“I’m looking forward to the few weeks of rest and practice once I’m done with the (FedEx Cup) playoffs. I’m hoping to spend some time with him and dig deeper into some of this stuff so that I’m ready to go when the new season starts in the fall.”

But first, McGirt will stay in North Carolina for the PGA Tour’s regular-season finale at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro with the FedEx Cup playoffs set to begin next week.

He’ll tee it up Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club with one goal.

“The goal for this week is to put four good, solid rounds together,” McGirt said. “I’m excited to be at Sedgefield because it’s a course where you hit all 14 clubs in your bag.”

McGirt’s club selection was limited last week at a beefed up Quail Hollow, which played at 7,600 yards. Sedgefield, a Donald Ross-designed course, is a 7,127-yard track known for yielding lower scores.

“Last week was so monotonous because I basically had to swing as hard as I could at a driver and was constantly hitting 5-wood, 3-iron, or 4-iron into the green,” he said.

“I think I hit seven clubs less than a 5-iron into the greens in 36 holes last week. Brandon and I toyed with the idea of pulling an 8-iron out of the bag last week and putting in a hybrid or another fairway wood because of how long the course was playing. In hindsight, I wish I had. Not once in two practice rounds and two tournament rounds did we ever consider hitting an 8-iron. When I was packing the car (on Monday morning) I almost left my long irons at home and got some new ones this week because I thought mine might need a week off after getting used so much last week.”

The experience at Quail Hollow was one he doesn’t plan on going through again during his time on the Tour.

“I wasn’t a fan of the changes they made and I don’t plan to play the Wells Fargo tournament anymore. I’m not going to play just to play,” he said.

“If I play, I want to know I have a chance to win if I play well. I know that if I play great I might be able to finish 35th to 40th out there now with the changes — no thanks. I hit it 40 yards too short to play there now. It was a fun, fair test of golf five years ago. The changes have made it no fun for an average length hitter now. I’d rather take that week off and play somewhere that I have a chance to win if I play well.”

He’s fared well recently in Greensboro, where in 2007 he made his Tour debut. Prior to missing the cut last season, the 64th-ranked player in the world earned a pair of top-15 finishes at Sedgefield, including a tie for 14th in 2015. He opened the 2015 edition with his career-low round of 62.

“It was a pretty boring week as far as the golf went (in Charlotte). This week should be much more fun because the course makes you think about every shot,” McGirt said. “There wasn’t much thinking last week about how to play holes. It was just hit it as hard as you can and hope you had a yardage that started with a 1 every now and then versus 220 something.”

Serving as the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs, many players come into the Wyndham seeking to solidify their status within the top-125 field along with their Tour exemption for next season. Every player ranked between 112 to 125 is playing.

At 90th in the FedEx Cup standings, McGirt is a lock for his seventh appearance in the four-tournament championship — starting next week at the Northern Trust in New York. Last season, McGirt advanced to the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta for the first time in his career.

McGirt tees off from the first tee on Thursday at 7:50 a.m. with Vaughn Taylor and Nick Taylor.

Si Woo Kim, who won the Players Championship earlier this season, is the defending champion of the event.

McGirt talks practice, Quail Hollow and Sedgefield

By Rodd Baxley

[email protected]

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.