OU's Brian Stuard makes 153 feet worth of putts to vault up RMC leaderboard

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Tiger has red, Rickie has orange.

So, Brian Stuard, what's your Sunday color?

"I don't know, that's a good question," he said with a laugh Saturday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. "I've gotta go see what's clean."

Brian Stuard reacts after making a putt for birdie on the second hole Saturday.

Stuard, the Oakland alumnus and Jackson native who has hundreds of friends and family following him around Detroit Golf Club this week, will be among the leaders when the final round tees off Sunday after a 7-under 65 in the third round. He was tied for ninth, albeit 10 shots back of red-hot leader Nate Lashley.

Stuard bounced back from an even-par 72 on Friday — a round that left him, quite frankly, quite disgusted.

The 65 tied his lowest round of the year in relation to par, with a 65 he shot at the Memorial last month. He shot a 64 on a par-70 course earlier this season.


"I was trying to be really determined out there," Stuard said. "To kind of bounce back from not such a great round yesterday."

Yeah, mission accomplished.

Stuard opened with a bogey-free, front-nine 31, featuring huge putts on Nos. 8 and 9, tough putts he admitted he didn't even consider making. He then birdied No. 10 to get it to 6 under for the day before he ran into a little bit of trouble. He talked Friday about how you can't make bogeys on this course, and you can't settle for par the par-5s, but that's exactly what he did with a bogey at the par-4 13th, then a par on the par-5 14th.

"It's kind of one of those little lulls I got into, I was just really trying to get myself out of it," said Stuard, who's 36, and ranked 80th in this year's FedEx Cup standings on the Tour. "Making the putt on 17 was big, that gave me the confidence to make the one on 18."

Stuard hit his second shot to the par-5 17th over the green, never a treat on this course, because then you're above the hole. His chip was disappointing, leaving him about 14 feet, but at least that putt was up the hill — and he made it for a birdie.

Then on 18, he hit his 164-yard approach from the rough to about 16 feet, and then drained that one, too, drawing a huge roar from the crowd gathered around the green.

Putting, so difficult on these Donald Ross greens, was so darn huge Saturday, as Stuard gained nearly five strokes on the greens alone, tops in the field among the players who had completed their rounds by 2 p.m. He made more than 153 feet worth of putts, an almost unheard-of number.

"The putter was really, for whatever reason, I was seeing the breaks well," Stuard said. "The ones I made on 8 and 9 were just two you don't even think about making. They both went in, and it was kind of a bonus."

The putts on 8 and 9 were both 36-footers. He also made an 8-footer on 1, a 20-footer on 2, an 8-footer on 3, a 12-footer on 10, a 14-footer on 17 and a 16-footer on 18.

That certainly made the post-round meal taste a little bit better than it did Friday, when he bolted the course and tried to get some rest, rather than banging more balls on the range. He figures he'll be within four or five shots of the lead by day's end, at least giving him a chance at his second PGA Tour victory Sunday, after the 2016 Zurich Classic.

And one more day on the post-round press podium, something he's not used to, and something he's not all that comfortable with.

"I'm not even sure if I did it when I won in New Orleans," said Stuard, smiling, when asked how long it's been since he gave post-round interviews three days in a row.

"But it's pretty cool, that's for sure."


Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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