Some things in golf just can’t be satisfactorily explained. Skinny guys who hit it a mile. Keegan Bradley’s spasmodic pre-shot routine, which someone has blamed on the overwrought metabolism of a hummingbird. John Daly’s kaleidoscopic pants. Stuff like that.
You can add one more thing to the list now: How can a man shoot 80 one day and 62 the next? Like that’s going to happen, right?
Well, it did. Brendon de Jonge, who was born in Zimbabwe but made his way through Virginia Tech and a lot of lesser golf tours before settling in Charlotte, did it Thursday and Friday at Quail Hollow in the Wells Fargo Championship. The 62 tied the course and tournament record set in 2010 by Rory McIlroy.
De Jonge’s game gave no indication this was coming. Playing through an injury, he has dawdled along in the 70’s for the 22 rounds before he arrived at Quail, never making it into the 60’s, making a few bucks, missing a few cuts, but was good to go.
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His mom and dad came to town to watch de Jonge play the Wells Fargo. He grilled them some ribeyes (“with lots of marble”), his specialty, did family stuff and felt nothing to suggest that an anvil was going to drop on him.
He loves this tournament and enjoys playing in front of a home crowd.
But Thursday came and brought him that awful 80, leaving friends and family sighing.
Why so high? The answer is the answer to most questions in golf – the putter. “I couldn’t make anything,” de Jonge said, and the evidence bore that out. The average length of his made putts was 2 feet, 2inches.
Friday, he sort’ve made everything after benching his Thursday putter.
The average length of his made putts was 9 feet, 1 inch.
“I had absolutely nothing to lose starting out this morning,” de Jonge said. “I knew it was going to take a wonderful round just to play the weekend, so it was a little bit easier to relax and be a little more aggressive out there.
“I was just trying to come out and shoot the best possible score I could, try to get momentum going for next week (Players Championship). Obviously I haven’t been playing my best and was just trying to get some momentum.”
Even with his spectacular play, de Jonge finished the day well off the lead, but he’s in it.
“As horrible as yesterday was,” he said, “today was as nice. So this game gives you something and takes something away.”
Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer sports columnist.