BY MIKE FIELDS
Troy Merritt, reunited with his putter called Mollie, rolled in an eagle and 8 birdies on his way to a course record-matching 62 Thursday in the opening round of the Barbasol Championship.
Merritt wasn’t at all disappointed that he just missed a birdie putt on the last hole.
“I’ve shot a couple 61s on tour. Both were 10-under par,” he said. “But I was very happy just to post a 62. I left that putt a little short, but if I had hit it firmer I think I would’ve missed if left anyway.”
Merritt found Champions at Keene Trace to his liking.
“It’s a fun track,” he said. “If you get the ball in the fairway and the ball in the right quadrant on the greens you can make some birdies.”
Merritt’s 10-under score matched the record score at Champions set by Steve Flesch in the opening round of the 1991 Kentucky Open.
Yes, Flesch went on to win that tournament. Merritt hopes to have the same good fortune, but he knows he’ll have to keep posting red numbers.
“This is a week where scoring is going to be pretty good,” he said. “You might have to get upwards of 20-under to have a chance to win this thing.”
Merritt credited his putter for his good day. The highlights included a 35-foot eagle at the 6th hole.
He used Mollie (that’s the name stamped on the putter) almost exclusively the last three years before he accidentally left her at home in Boise, Ida., before the AT&T Pebble Beach in February.
“I used my backup the week of Pebble and finished in the top 10, so I kept that putter in the bag until last week,” Merritt said. “I wasn’t making anything with it, and I was losing my comfort with it.”
So he put a new grip on Mollie and she was back in the bag for last week’s John Deere Classic.
“(Mollie) is a very appropriate name,” he said. “It was my grandparents’ first dog when I was a kid, so Mollie’s a good name.”
Maybe she can fetch Merritt his first PGA TOUR title since he won the Quickens Loan in 2015.