CHARLOTTE – Golf fans tuning into final round coverage of the 2017 PGA Championship will see a leaderboard dotted with names they’re no doubt familiar with. Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Louis Oosthuizen, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day a touch further back.
But sandwiched in-between them all is Chris Stroud, a 35-year-old journeyman with a real shot of stealing the major away from all of them.
“It’s just a dream come true to be here, to be up here, talking to you guys at the PGA Championship, one of the greatest tournaments in the world,” he said in his press conference after his third round. “I’ve been waiting on this a long time. I didn’t think it was going to take me this long but I’m glad I’m here.”
Most of Stroud’s success came as an amateur, where he was a two-time All-American at Lavar University and played on a Palmer Cup team in 2004. He turned professional later that year, has never hit the equivalent heights.
What’s interesting about Stroud is that for as middling as his 13-year professional golf career has been, he first landed on the PGA Tour 11 years ago. He’s played at least 24 PGA Tour events every season since 2007, and he’s been quite consistent in terms of making cuts: He’s made 115 in his 290 PGA Tour starts, amassing $10,675,987 in on-course winnings in the process.
If all that’s been missing from Stroud’s career has been that final breakthrough, he may have found it this week.
In 2017, he’s finished in the top 25 in six of his 18 events so far and came into the PGA Championship following the first PGA Tour win of his career, during the off-week Barracuda Championship. He’s continued that form at Quail Hollow, especially on the greens, where he leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.
Now, he’s playing in the final group, hunting his first major.
“I’ve dreamed about this for years,” he said after this third round 71.
“I know all these guys are going to be super nervous. I’m sure I will be, too. But like I said, last week just gave me an unbelievable sense of calm. I’ve never felt so relaxed on the golf course and I think it’s a lot of reason why I’m playing so well. I’m relaxed on the greens. I’m relaxed off the tee. Everything’s really simple. So I’m going to use that to my advantage tomorrow.”
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