Charlotte reunion helps Maggert regain old form

Jeff Maggert watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Houston Open.

Jeff Maggert watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Houston Open.

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10:36:14 PM ET. 04/20/2014




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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – When Jeff Maggert arrived at what was known as the Wachovia Championship in 2004, he was looking for a caddie. The Houston native eventually hooked up with Mark Miller, a local guy who wanted to try looping, and Maggert gave him a chance.

The duo finished fifth that year, and a few weeks later Miller was on the bag at the Memorial Tournament in a relationship that lasted until this year's Waste Management Phoenix Open, when Miller, now living in Chicago, wanted to stop traveling.

After Thursday's first round at Quail Hollow Club, where Miller and Maggert reunited inside the ropes for the Wells Fargo Championship, it feels like old times for the pair. Maggert shot 2-under 70, his fourth-best opening round in 10 appearances here.

“It's been good,” Maggert said of Miller’s one-week return. “It hasn't been that long since I've seen the guy, but it's fun. It's probably been a little bit more laid back for me this week.”

Miller, 43, who is working on passing all the requirements to be a financial adviser, is working with MetLife. He conceded that should this week be successful – i.e., a victory – he might have to rethink his recent career move.

For Maggert when Miller left it was a difficult run of five missed cuts until he made another change and put Rusty "Hoss" Uresti on the bag.

“I never blame a caddie for playing bad,” Maggert said. “But it was just the karma just kind of wasn't great. I kind of slipped a little bit in my game and was having a hard time getting back and working with a new guy, was just kind of out of sync.”

With Uresti, who had been on the bag at times before Milller, back caddieing for Maggert, the veteran player made cuts at the Shell Houston Open and the RBC Heritage before narrowing missing weekend play at New Orleans.

“I think because he played professional baseball when he was younger in the minor leagues and was a catcher, so obviously if you're a catcher you're dealing with pitchers,” Maggert said of the benefits of his current caddie Uresti. “And I think a lot of it is the same type of thing in being a caddie with a pro. It's like you've got to know when to say the right thing. When the guy is playing good, you stay out of his way.”

• • •

FINDING A SOLUTION: Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey took advantage of his success in the 2011 season, landing an off-season deal with Callaway. He's still looking to find a winning feel with the driver.

For the past four months, Gainey and Callaway have tried everything to deal with the unique circumstance of Gainey’s use of a stiff-shafted driver compared with the extra stiff that so many PGA Tour players use. The stiff shaft made the driver head unstable at impact, and his game and scores suffered because of it.

In what has to be considered a last-ditch effort, the equipment guys from Callaway tried to add stability with a ferrule, an attachment where the shaft meets the clubhead.

“Oh, it made the difference because now the setting should be what I'm looking for, because today I really hit it good off the tee,” said Gainey, who hit nine of 14 fairways in his opening 4-under 68. “I didn't miss many fairways with the driver.”

Gainey ranks 169th on Tour in driving accuracy, hitting only 52 percent of the fairways midway through the season.

“We made an adjustment every week on this driver,” Gainey said in explaining his frustration. “And we thought we'd get somewhere, and then we'd take a step forward, take two steps back. We finally feel like we've got it figured out. So it's fixed, and I'm very happy now. “

• • •

SEEING IS EVERYTHING: Some new contacts have helped Brian Harman see clearly, and his name to be seen on the leaderboard. Harman shot 67, two shots off the lead. Harman switched three weeks ago to a new brand of lenses.

“For whatever reason, the old brand was making my vision real blurry,” he said. “I walked out here on Tuesday, and I felt like a new man. It helps on putts. I’ve been hitting the ball well but haven’t been making any putts, and I finally was able to make a few today. I think I can finally see the grass when I stand over it.”

After playing the 2009 Walker Cup, Harman spent two seasons on the Charlotte-based eGolf Professional Tour, which conducts its events mostly in the Carolinas. That experience didn’t provide any local advantage at Quail Hollow, though.

“First time I saw it was Tuesday,” Harman said. “We didn’t get to go to Quail Hollow.”

The PGA Tour rookie has four top-25 finishes in 12 starts. He has made nine cuts and earned $436,287. A tie for 12th at the Honda Classic, where he shot a course-record 61 in the second round, is his best showing.

“This is where I’ve always pictured myself,” he said. “I feel like I’m home out here.”

• • •

DISABLED LIST: Want a sure thing for Round 2? Jim Furyk won’t hole any dramatic shots with his 6-iron. That’s because pending some assistance from his equipment teammates, Furyk has to put the club on the sideline. It was bent ever so slightly by the hosel when he played his second shot from beneath a tree to the right of the 11th fairway.

“I knew there were roots to the right of the ball, but not underneath,” Furyk said. Sure enough, while trying to play a “three-quarter, half-6-iron,” Furyk’s clubface struck a root and the ball traveled a mere 125 yards. It led to one of his two bogeys in a round of 1-under 71, but two other concerns took priority.

First, his wrists, both of which have caused him trouble through the years. “But I’m fine,” Furyk said, citing the right one, which took the brunt of the shock. “It just felt like it was tired, like I had just had a good workout.”

Next, the 6-iron, which Furyk brought into officials afterward. They told him that he was fine to have finished the round with it, but he couldn’t use it again until it got repaired. No chance of that happening by today, so Furyk said he would perhaps toss a 3-iron into his bag; it wouldn’t fill in for the 6-iron, “but it will come in handy off of (the short par 4) the 14th.”

“I wish I was as good as (Ben) Hogan,” Furyk said, noting the gap in his equipment, before smiling and adding: “but I’m not.”

• • •

NICE REBOUND: Nick Watney picked an impressive stretch of holes to get hot – birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th – and with a round of 4-under 68 snapped out of a slump of sorts. Over his previous nine rounds, dating to Friday of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Watney had averaged 73.777, but he called his 74-73 effort to miss the cut in New Orleans last week “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Watney, without a top-10 finish in any of his nine stroke-play tournaments, arrived here from New Orleans on Saturday morning, hit balls that day, then all day Sunday. The work seemed to have paid off. Despite hitting just six fairways, Watney hit 14 greens to break 70 for just the third time in his last 15 rounds.

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: With a 69, Jonathan Byrd is 23 under for his last 11 rounds at Quail Hollow. . . . After finishing among the top 10 in four consecutive stroke-play tournaments then going for T-17 at the Masters, Bo Van Pelt has hit a few potholes. He shot 74-76 and missed the cut at Hilton Head and opened with a 78 here. . . . Things unraveled in a hurry for David Duval. Having birdied the par-4 third – his 12th hole – to get to 1 under, the onetime No. 1 bogeyed the fifth, then pumped two tee shots into the water right at the par-5 seventh. He made a quadruple bogey to shoot 40 on the front and 75 for his round. . . . D.J. Trahan bogeyed the opening hole, then withdrew, citing a sore back. It means in 11 tournaments this season, Trahan has cashed just three checks. . . . Mike Weir shot 71, his best score since shooting 70 in his first round of the season, at Pebble Beach. In the interim, there have been 12 rounds and a 76.5 scoring average.

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