Tale of two No. 9s: Rookie Streb bounces back
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. Thirteen days ago, rookie Robert Streb was playing the ninth hole at Riviera during the second round of the Northern Trust Open.
Streb had started the day tied for seventh after a first-round 68, but with a 1:25 p.m. tee time, the last of the day, the Kansas State product was bound to have trouble finishing in the light.
Arriving on the No. 9 tee, Streb felt he could see well enough. A bogey on No. 8 had knocked him down to the cut line at 1 over.
His double-bogey six then let in all those who stood at 2 over -- and gave Streb an early ticket home.
“Probably should’ve stopped,” Streb said, looking back to that Friday night in Los Angeles. “The guys were wanting to finish and I was, 'They will blow it if it gets really dark.' And they obviously didn’t end up blowing it, but I should’ve stopped after my tee ball at nine was in the middle of the fairway.”
Streb said he had nowhere to go that Friday night and after a couple of days he finally shook off the experience.
On the ninth hole on Thursday at the Honda Classic, Streb was finishing his first round since Riviera. Again the sun was setting, it was 6:20 p.m., but he could still see. After a quick check with his caddie in the yardage book to confirm his read, Streb buried a 19-footer for birdie to shoot a 5-under 65 and move within one stroke of leader and defending champion Camilo Villegas.
What is foremost in his mind since missing the cut at Riviera?
“Obviously trying to make the right decisions,” Streb said. “If it gets dark so be it, but I tried to take a little bit different attitude, learn the most you can from it and keep going. You get burned once; you learn.”
Streb confirmed that his bogey-free performance Thursday, which included an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, was his best of his young PGA Tour career.
So now he puts himself in position again. The missed cut is just a memory and Streb is going to just play one hole at a time, a familiar mantra on the PGA Tour. But it's possible the missed cut might have been a mixed blessing, as Streb got to tinker with his ball striking during the week off.
Now he must find a way to play well when the chances avail themselves -- as they surely will during the next three days. A high finish one week can lead to more down the road, Streb said, pointing to his own recent experiences.
“Once you get that first one done, you're comfortable you can do it,” Streb said. “Palm Springs helped; I had a real good finish, so I was like, 'All right, I can hang with these guys, now just keep going as high as I can.' ”