January 16, 2023
Hayden Buckley knew it wasn’t his driving that stored him from his first PGA Tour victory on the Sony Open.
“The ball-striking, I’ve at all times identified that it’s my energy, however simply to see it, particularly after a month off, I actually didn’t assume I wanted to work on an excessive amount of this offseason,” Buckley mentioned after ending runner-up. “Simply to see what I can do with the motive force I believe is one thing that may profit me I believe in the long term.”
On the younger season, Buckley ranks fourth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and was fifth within the stat at Waialea. On the twelfth gap, instantly following his first bogey of the ultimate spherical, Buckley pounded it 352 yards into the center of the green, organising a bounce-back birdie.
Si Woo Kim chases down Hayden Buckley to win Sony Open
That was considered one of a number of lengthy, clutch tee photographs Buckley hit throughout the week, together with a few 3-woods on the par-5 18th. His ball-striking gave him a one-stroke lead as he headed to the again 9 Sunday, however it was his brief placing that permit him down. He ended up ending runner-up to Si Woo Kim, his greatest end on Tour.
“I really feel just like the placing was a bit shaky,” he mentioned. “It didn’t really feel nice all week, although I did make a variety of putts. I remodeled 200 ft of putts at the least in a pair days. With that, I really feel like I made a variety of these lengthy putts, however I struggled on the brief ones. That was relationship again to Thursday. Thursday I missed a three- or four-footer for birdie, and it appears like I missed one or two of these nearly every single day.”
The stats again him up. On putts between 4 and eight ft, he completed tied for 72nd out of the 76 gamers to make the minimize, changing simply eight of his 14 possibilities from that vary. The sector common was almost 70 p.c.
In the meantime, he was elite from exterior 10 ft, making simply greater than 27 p.c of his 48 appears. That was sixth greatest within the subject with a mean of about 15 p.c for the week.
On Sunday, he missed birdie putts of eight ft and 6 ft on 8 and 9 and par putts of 5 ft and three-and-a-half ft on 11 and 15.
His decisive miss for birdie on 18 got here from 12 ft.
“That basically simply caught as much as me on the finish,” he mentioned. “I really feel like I had management of the event just about the entire means, however only a late miss I believe on 15 from three or 4 ft actually harm.”
When he missed his birdie possibilities on 8 and 9, that was when he mentioned it felt like a turning level.
‘95 p.c of contemporary gamers’ do that whereas placing, in line with an skilled
“That little stretch on 8 and 9, I felt like I might actually break free, and it didn’t occur,” Buckley mentioned.
Even after the frustration, the second-year PGA Tour member was nonetheless trying on the positives. He made a 29-footer on 14 for birdie and a 16-footer on 16, which gave him the outright lead earlier than Kim drained his chip shot a gap forward.
Whereas it was his greatest likelihood to log his first PGA Tour win, he’s been in place earlier than. He completed T5 on the Zozo Championship final fall — the third top-10 of his profession — and was only a shot off the lead via two rounds on the U.S. Open at Brookline.
“I really feel like I had an excellent fall,” mentioned Buckley, who moved to 14th within the early season FedEx Cup standings. “Clearly, I had considerably of an opportunity in Japan. Not essentially proper within the lead or by no means actually had the lead, however I’ve been in conditions related. U.S. Open, once more, second to final group on Saturday. I’ve had alternatives and haven’t been in a position to convert.
“I believe confidence is one thing that I’ll by no means lose it simply because I’ve seen the way in which I hit the ball, and I’ve seen the way in which I can simply rise to the event. Sadly, it didn’t occur in the present day, however I believe good issues are coming.”
Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is 2020 graduate of Penn State College, incomes levels in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his highschool golf workforce and nonetheless *tries* to stay aggressive in native amateurs. Earlier than becoming a member of GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but in addition producing, anchoring and even presenting the climate. He might be reached at [email protected].