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RIDGELAND, S.C. – As soon as he said it, Chesson Hadley knew the comment could sound odd in the wrong context.
The PGA Tour player had just finished his second round Friday morning at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, and he was atop the early leaderboard. It was not a place he had visited recently, as Hadley had missed the cut in 10 of his last 12 tournaments.
Interviewed after a round of 5-under-66 put him at 11-under for two rounds, Hadley credited his putting.
“So it’s nice to hit some good shots, and the putter’s hot,” Hadley said. “So if I can just keep riding the putter, she’s a sweet girl. So I’ll just ride her until — you know.”
Before he could fully answer the next question about putting, he broke into laughter.
“I’m just kind of thinking about that last comment I made now,” he said. “Use that. Absolutely.”
And why not? Golfers love their putters when they’re this hot. On Friday, Hadley made seven birdie putts, including one of 35 feet, 8 inches on the par-4 No. 11, and two of 22-11 at Nos. 3 and 7.
“It certainly makes golf a lot easier,” Hadley said. “Most of your strokes are done on the putting surface. So if you see the ball going in the hole a lot, it does something to you. I certainly made my fair share of putts today for par and for birdie. Don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I like the way everything feels, for sure.”
Hadley uses an Odyssey 2-Ball putter which he calls “Nana” after his grandmother, as he explained.
“So my grandmother – she actually passed away earlier this year – but she was just like the most lovely and sweet, kind woman. That’s how I want my putter to be, lovely and sweet and kind, right? She’s just good to you, right? So she’s Nana.”
Hadley called his old Odyssey putter Nana, so he updated the new putter with Nana Jr. Whatever the name, the game is working really well at Congaree Golf Club.
“Fortunately, that’s been the bright spot to my year has been my putter,” Hadley said. “Your feels and the way you just look at the ball changes the ball. Sometimes the ball just looks different. You haven’t done anything, and you just wake up one day, and it just looks different for some reason. That just changes everything. But I have a good baseline with the putting right now. I know what I’m doing, what I’m trying to do, and it’s working. So hopefully, it can keep moving forward with that.”
Hadley, who turns 34 next month, sounded relieved just to go to lunch Friday without worrying about the cut line. It’s understandable considering his streak of five missed cuts, followed by two made, then another five missed. He’s played 18 tournaments this season, and of the six made cuts, five resulted in top-25 finishes.
“No, I definitely didn’t see this coming,” said the 2010 Georgia Tech graduate. “… thank goodness I had three weeks off just to kind of hit the reset switch, get out on the boat, and just kind of forget about some things and spend some time with some family.”
Hadley, whose lone win on the PGA Tour was the 2014 Puerto Rico Open, said the stretch of missed cuts didn’t help his confidence. But he looked back on his career successes and started playing better.
“Obviously, we’re a long way from the winner’s circle, and that’s not what I’m saying,” he said. “I’m so thankful to just feel that again, like I belong out here type of thing.”