Knowing oneself is critical in golf. It was this self-awareness which Matt Every took to heart when he recently enlisted the assistance of statistics guru Mark Horton. Horton has worked with Brandt Snedeker for sometime, helping him understand the strengths and weaknesses of his game through statistical data compilations. Understanding this helps lead to strong decision-making, decision-making Every employed at Bay Hill– riding it to his first career PGA Tour victory.
After Friday at the Bay Hill, writers across the nation were preparing statements about Adam Scott and developing witty one-liners to crown the ‘new world #1’. In golf, things have potential to change in the blink of an eye– but this change took an entire weekend. Every person thought the tournament was Adam’s.
Flashback two days and the news was Scott’s 62-68 start, which propelled him to a 7-stroke lead. People were talking about the dominant nature of his play, the precision of his ball striking and his ability rolling the ball on Bay Hill’s slippery putting surfaces. With a win, Adam would have taken over the #1 ranking in the Official World Golf Rankings.
What on earth happened?
The first thing necessary to catch Scott was great rounds from his pursuers on Saturday. Matt Every and Keegan Bradley’s 66s, a 67 by Jason Kokrak and 69s by Francesco Molinari and Chesson Hadley tightened the leader board going into Sunday’s final round. Necessary next was sub-par play from Adam Scott. His rounds of 71-76 were nothing close to the form he displayed early in the week. It opened the door wide for the field.
The man to emerge from the cluster late on Sunday was Matt Every. His bid for the tournament started on Saturday with his aforementioned round of 66. During the final round, Every’s rudimentary even-par start through 8 holes did nothing to scare the names above him– but then he had some fortune go his way.
His drive on the 9th chased down the edge of the cart path, flirting with the looming out of bounds for some 50 yards. The ball hugged the cart path, never deterring. It finished at 339 yards to give Every a wedge into the par-4. The ball would’ve trickled out of bounds maybe 6 out of 10 times. Instead, he hit his wedge close and holed the putt for birdie. The birdie jumpstarted his round.
Birdies at the 10th, 12th and 13th holes vaulted the former University of Florida standout to the top of the leader board. Surprisingly, he finished with two bogies in his final 3 holes. To his benefit, no one could catch him despite the shaky finish.
Matt Every is a known, great ball striker. His putter has always held him back– but not this weekend. In reality, not this season. Thus far, he’s ranked 5th in stokes gained putting in 2014. It’s a change noticed by golf people everywhere. A win wasn’t to far off in his future.
And it wasn’t.