Kisner hoping to click starting at Congaree

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Jun. 9—RIDGELAND — Kevin Kisner is seeing good signs.

He can see the results in practice and feels like he's better than his current slump is showing. It just hasn't shown up on the golf course yet in tournament play, one of those weeks where everything clicks and he starts rolling.

This week's Palmetto Championship at Congaree Golf Club begins a four-week stretch for Kisner where he hopes to ignite a hot streak to finish up the summer and charge right into the FedEx Cup playoffs in August.

There's good vibes this week at Congaree, the one-off replacement for the RBC Canadian Open. Kisner was invited to be a philanthropic ambassador at Congaree and knows the place well — he's made a few visits from Aiken to play with friends and even made a trip there with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

It's a third stop this season in South Carolina for the stars of the PGA Tour. In addition to the traditional trip in April to Harbour Town, the PGA Championship three weeks ago was at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and now the pros are just outside of Ridgeland.

In the field this week is the Aiken trio of Kisner, Matt NeSmith and Scott Brown, as are fellow South Carolinians like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former Clemson Tiger Bryson Nimmer, who grew up near Congaree. They'll all take their shot at a rare win in their home state.

"That would be awesome," Kisner said. "I always wanted to be the first one to win Harbour Town, and Wesley Bryan snuck in and got me on that one. We've got another chance this week, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to have a chance to win."

To do that, he'll have to cure some of what's ailed him this year — he said he's been slow getting back into a rhythm after taking off five weeks earlier this year for the birth of son Steven George. He's ranked 41st on the Tour in strokes gained putting, which would be a fine year for most but is his worst ranking since 2015. He explained how that leads into being more aggressive with iron shots in an attempt to leave shorter putts, which then leads to mistakes.

That contributed to him missing five consecutive cuts from the Masters Tournament through the PGA Championship, and he's had just one top-10 finish during this wraparound season — his playoff loss to Robert Streb in November at Sea Island.

He ranks ninth in driving accuracy, hitting 69.94% of fairways. That should work nicely this week on a firm and fast layout that punishes players who can't control their golf ball.

"Everybody thinks that a tight, narrow course with a lot of rough is better for straight hitters. In reality, I think places like this where I hardly ever miss a fairway is a good opportunity for me, too," he said. "I'm looking forward to attacking the holes where I have short irons and then playing for par on the difficult holes. I think the idea of making less bogeys is a good idea around this golf course."

Lots of rain lately has softened the course a bit, so the par-71 isn't expected to play to its full 7,655 yards. The soil is sand-based and drains well, so players are anticipating it will live up to its firm-and-fast reputation during tournament play so long as no more significant rain falls.

That would mean lots of roll and run-out on shots, true to the vision on which the golf course was created. The grass is primarily one height throughout the course, so errant shots won't end up in rough — they'll likely run off into bunkers or other sandy waste areas, or could end up in tricky short-grass spots around the greens that will require the right choice between a chip or putt.

It's a different test than most courses in South Carolina pose, but it's still another chance for an in-state victory — and potentially the spark Kisner needs heading toward the season finale.

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