ORLANDO – For Matt Every, it all started in 2015, during the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. On the third tee at Kapalua, Every locked up midway through his downswing and drove a ball so far right that the shot has stuck with him ever since.
“It was kind of eye-opening,” Every said, “and it just gradually seeped its way into my head.”
More than two years later and Every is still trying to get over those driver yips. But after making his first cut in nearly a year Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he’s won twice, Every received a nice jolt in confidence.
“You can have the putting yips and play out here; you can, if you hit it good enough,” Every said. “You cannot have the driver yips.”
Every has ranked nearly at the bottom in strokes gained: off-the-tee in each of the last two seasons on the PGA Tour. He attributes some of the problem to shallowing out his swing with the driver, a move that affected his normally strong iron play. Last fall, he saw a hypnotist, but that didn’t work for Every. He’s switched instructors a couple of times recently, too, but that’s not the culprit, either.
“It’s me,” Every said.
This season, Every was No. 203 out of 205 in strokes gained: off-the-tee entering Bay Hill. On the range, his swing is “as good as it’s ever been.” But not being able to translate that to the course has frustrated Every. He’s experienced some low moments in the past year as he’s racked up missed weekend after missed weekend.
“It’s like when you wake up in a dream and you can’t breathe,” Every said.
But there Every was Friday afternoon breathing some fresh air. He can sense the yips before they come and that sensation has been less and less frequent. At Bay Hill this week, his confidence over the ball on the tee has been a drastic improvement from where he’s come from.
Sure, he hit just 12 of 28 fairways through two rounds, but more importantly he didn’t have a big miss off tee, made just four bogeys, enters Saturday at 1 under, and oh yeah, he’ll play the weekend for the first time since the Shell Houston Open in April 2016.
“God, I’ve been grinding for like a year,” Every said. “… But if I hated it that much I wouldn’t keep doing it. I do enjoy the challenge every day.”
Every either missed the cut or withdrew in 18 straight Tour events coming into the API. His made cut in Houston was short-lived, too, as he shot 82 in the third round to miss the secondary cut, a week after missing the cut at Bay Hill, where he won back-to-back titles, in 2014 and ’15.
“I honestly do not know how many (cuts) in a row I’ve missed,” Every said.
And Every isn’t concerned with having ended that skid, either. It’s nice to get a paycheck, but Every wants more.
“I know I can win out here, so I don’t want to set my standards at making cuts,” Every said. “… I know guys who are career cut-line guys out here and I’m not one of those guys and I don’t want to be one of those guys. I want to get a third win.
“When I die I want (my obituary) to say ‘Matt Every, three or four or five PGA Tour wins,’ not ‘Matt Every, 160 cuts made on Tour.’ ”
Without that winner’s mentality, Every might not have a chance to overcome his struggles. But he has it, and after two years filled with more downs than ups, driver yips and missed cuts, the key for Every will be getting his confidence back. A strong performance this weekend at Arnie’s Place would be a nice start.