Chris Stroud's 'foggy dream' continues with opening 68 at PGA

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Chris Stroud's 'foggy dream' continues with opening 68 at PGA

PGA Tour

Chris Stroud's 'foggy dream' continues with opening 68 at PGA

CHARLOTTE – How many people have reached out to Chris Stroud since he won the Barracuda Championship last week for his first PGA Tour victory? The quick rundown: 1,400 text messages, 55 voicemails and about 100 emails.

“I have replied to every single one of them,” Stroud said. “I’m a big believer in that. I told a few guys after golf is gone and done for me, all you have left is people and the relationships you have. I care more about people than I do about my golf.”

Not caring so much about golf has helped Stroud with – funny enough – his golf. Since turning pro in 2007, Stroud has wanted so badly to win; he just couldn’t get it done. His performance in majors was especially sorrowing: eight starts, just two made cuts and no top 25s.

“All these years, I kept telling myself, you are going to win. You are great. Being super positive to myself,” Stroud said. “It was putting a lot of pressure on myself (and) I didn’t know it. I gave up on it. About six months ago I said you know what, I’ve had 10 years of good run out here. I’ve played well. I don’t care if I win anymore. … I’m going to play the best I can and let’s just ride this out. I don’t know if I’m good enough to win or keep my card.

“And since I surrendered to that, it’s like all the sudden the weight is off my shoulders.”

And he’s a PGA Tour champion. Stroud was originally supposed to head back home to Houston this week after playing six straight events. But his win in Reno, Nev., got him into this week’s major at Quail Hollow, so Stroud drove two hours to Sacramento, hopped on a plane to Charlotte on Monday and now he’s playing a seventh straight event – and sitting pretty after an opening 3-under 68 at Quail Hollow.

Stroud went bogey-free while making three birdies, including one on the difficult closing hole of the treacherous “Green Mile,” the par-4 18th. For a guy who averaged 289.6 yards off the tee on a 7,600-yard layout on Thursday, he was superb with his irons, gaining nearly three strokes approaching the green, and he struck just 26 putts, gaining more than two strokes on the greens.

“Today was one of the easiest rounds,” Stroud said. “Obviously I’m playing well. I’m swinging it nicely and putting it well. That has a lot to do with it. It’s a deep confidence that I have.

“But the truth is my caddie, any time I start talking about golf, he says, ‘No, no, we’re not going to talk about golf. Stay distracted.’ I have used so little energy out there, it’s incredible.”

Stroud said he and his caddie have talked about a variety of subjects, from science and spirituality to the Houston Texans and Houston Astros. Anything to get his mind off golf, which might come in handy should Stroud once again find himself in the mix on a Sunday.

Of course, this Sunday won’t be like last Sunday. It’s a major championship with major pressure. Stroud is aware, but it’s all good. Like the song, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

“Just going to keep living this foggy dream I’m in right now,” Stroud said, “and ride it as long as I can.”

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