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A PGA pro’s battle with ulcerative colitis



It was April 2010, and things in my life were going great. I was engaged to my dream girl, and was getting started at a brand new job, working as an assistant golf professional at a private club in Markham, Ontario. Not only that, but I was working with a great friend of mine, as well as one of the top head golf professionals in the province.

It was the perfect place for me to be at that point of my career. In my third year, I working under a great team at a great club. And on top of that, I had the opportunity to play a lot of local PGA events, which I was very excited about. Playing and competing at a high level is something I love and cherish, and I was pumped for the opportunity.

We were just getting things started at the club, setting up the pro shop and preparing for what was to be a great season. But things took a wicked turn for me in my own life. I found myself needing to go to the bathroom a lot more than normal, and experiencing quite a bit of stomach pain. I just sort of brushed it under the rug in the beginning, thinking it was nothing to worry about that it would go away on its own. Boy, was I wrong.

It continued to happen, increasing in frequency as well as in the urgency to go. When I had to go, I had to go NOW — no waiting around what so ever. The tipping point came when I began to notice blood in my stool. I knew this was something that was not going to go away on its own. I needed to get help.

I went to the doctor, and thus began a wild series of events that just never seemed to end. There were countless doctors and tests to try to determine what was wrong and why this was happening to me. In the beginning, I was told it was a bowel disease called “Ulcerative Proctitis.” They told me it was nothing major, and a series of medication were supposed to calm everything down and get things back to normal. I had been sick for about four months, so was excited to hear the news and happy to get my life back on track.

After taking the doctor’s advice and medication I was no better — maybe even a bit worse. I went back to the specialist and told him that there was no progress. Like me, he was concerned, and booked a colonoscopy. For anyone who has had this done, you know it is no fun at all, but at the same time it needed to be done so the doctors could see exactly what was going on. What the doctors found was worse than the original “scope” showed — more of my colon was affected, and my doctor was confident that I had “Ulcerative Colitis.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Ulcerative Colitis, it is an inflammatory bowel disease that unfortunately has no known cause, and only one cure; surgery. The symptoms are many, and include living in a bathroom (at the worst, I would have to go about 20 or more times a day). It also causes constant stomach pain, fatigue, weakness and other bad things.

Even though there was only the one cure, the doctor was nowhere near ready to make me go under the knife. He recommended a high-strength steroid (prednisone) that he thought would calm things down and ease the swelling of the colon, sending the disease into remission. There are thousands of people who have Crohns and Colitis and can live a normal life through medication and treatment, and we were hoping I would be one of them — David Garrard, a former Jacksonville Jags QB is a well-known athlete who has Crohns.

Of course, this made things at the golf club a lot tougher. I was in so much pain and in the bathroom so often. It affected my performance in the shop and on the course. I tried my best while there, but it was not easy. I played when the pain was not as high, but my game suffered. I was only able to play in two events all year, and they were both poor outings — a missed cut in the Ontario PGA Championship and a tough day two in our Assistants summer Championship that had me at the back of the pack.

Playing two consecutive days of tournament golf with this disease was tough, and the fatigue and pain caught up to me in the end. I knew that that was probably going to be it for me for tournaments for 2010, and that was tough to deal with. I knew I was just not healthy enough to play and compete at that level. I just wanted to put all of my energy to getting better and beating the disease. I ended up leaving the club just before the end of the season, as the pain and stress of it all was just too much for my body to handle.

It was now October, and all of these pills and medications were not doing anything for me. I felt I was getting worse and no progress was being made. I went back to the doctor and he knew at this point that the prednisone was not the answer. What I needed was a new drug treatment called Remicade. This was a new treatment for UC patients, but it had offered great results for some. The problem with this treatment is that you have to be approved through the government for it, and you have to get an insurance company to support you, as this treatment costs over $4000 per dose (it is an IV style treatment that goes directly into the blood stream.)

After a long wait and a number of phone calls, emails and paperwork, I was finally approved for the treatment. I had three appointments booked, and they had told me that this should get things into remission. Well, three treatments and more than $12,000 later, I was still not any better, and I knew the surgery was the next step. I was now a year into it and so sick and tired of being so sick and tired. I could not wait to have the surgery and be 100 percent cured of this disease. The main setback with this was the fact that I would have a colostomy bag on the outside of my stomach. It would be a major thing to get used to, but I knew I could do it. I felt it would be a piece of cake!

It was now August 2011 and almost one year since I had last played a round of golf. I remember being in the waiting room waiting to be called into the OR, and I kept thinking of all the things I was going to do when I was better. Golf was high on that list. Getting out to play and compete again was a high priority, and one I could not wait for! It took a while before that first round, but it was all worth it!  I remember playing late in 2011, just one round. I was playing with my wife and in-laws at a course I knew well, and standing on that first tee was very special. After all that I had been through, all the hard times and struggles, I was back! I shot a high number that day, but the thrill of being back on the links was so special, and a round I will never forget.

I really appreciate GolfWRX allowing me the opportunity to share my story with the community here. I have left this off with a lot more to add to my story and I hope you enjoyed the read. For anyone looking for more information on the disease, I urge you to check out the websites below, and feel free to PM with any questions you may have in regards to the disease.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.  and

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I am a very proud member of the PGA of Canada, and love all aspects of this great game. I had ulcerative colitis in 2010 and 2011, and had my colon removed in August of 2011. It was the best decision of my life. I am currently working hard on my game and career, and I love the opportunity to share my story with the GolfWRX community



  1. paul k.

    Jan 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    good luck w everything rob…i had ulcerative colitis for about 6 yrs..and endless trips to the bathroom and feeling felt like i was prescribed every possible drug on the market, and nothing helped. at one point i shriveled down to 117 lbs.(im 6’3)..i got emergency surgery on christmas eve to have my colon removed,,and it was the best thing ever. surgery seems like the only solution. good luk everyone with the disease, and good luck with your golf rob. ill be checking on how youre doing

  2. Tom

    Jan 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story- I hope everything is going well for you and your family. As a young man with UC also, I know it can be tough, especially with an active lifestyle. Take it easy and good luck with the gophers.


  3. Robin

    Jan 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    This is a very inspirational story. I have Crohns myself (diagnosed Nov 2009) and went 11 months with no diagnosis, being told I had a “persistent stomach flu” and IBS. Finally a month long bout of kidney stones kicked off my long trek to remission. I am so glad to hear you are on the mend, sorry it took surgery to get you there, and wish you the best and many happy rounds on the course 🙂

  4. naflack

    Jan 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I lost my colon from UC in 2010 after battling it for 6 years. I am now disease free but will tell you first hand life without a functioning large intestine is quite challenging. Your strength and energy levels never return, sleeping through the night it’s no longer an option and you will battle significant dehydration for the rest of your life.
    If you know anyone with crohns or UC understand that they in essence live their daily lives with symptoms you would associate with a stomach virus, everyday.

  5. Tom Earls

    Jan 3, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for your story. I had Ulcerative Colitis for about 40 years, from the age of 24 to 66. I got some relief at about age 47 when I began taking a lot of Pepto Bismol which kills bactera. I finally achieved nearly 100% relief when I began taking colostrum 3 years ago. It is an auto immune enhancer from the first milk of a cow that has just given birth. I can only say it absolutely worked for me. I now get minor symptoms when I eat spagetti three days in a row, but I’m cured. Best of luck with you golf. Can you tell me how to cure my golf game?
    Tom Earls
    Sturbridge, MA

  6. Erica K

    Jan 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    What an inspiring story! Keep doing what you’re doing and I know we’ll be seeing the name “Rob Kenny” on the leaderboard in the very near future.

  7. Chris

    Dec 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    This is a good article about UC. As a sufferer for 20 years i can understand what you are going through, although mine appears much milder than yours. i have been on mesalazine for 19 years and 1 year on the prednisolone that saw my weight balloon. This is a good read and reminder of what happened to me a good few years back.

  8. DaverB

    Dec 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Great article Rob.
    With your dedication and tenacity, I look forward to seeing you playing in The Big Show in the very near future.

  9. Sam

    Dec 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I definitely feel for you, Rob, as I have UC myself. I have a lighter case than many, and have managed mostly through diet (I was on sulfasalazine for years and that never really helped). I’m sorry you had to have surgery (I’ve considered it sometimes when I’m in bad flares), but it sounds like you’re taking it in stride and have great things ahead of you.


  10. Des

    Dec 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

    My daughter is a keen sportswoman and hard working 27yr old and manages her life around Chrohn’s. Your story is brave and candid and helpful to others with similar conditions. I wish you every sucess in your life and in your sport, you clearly have the strength of character to work through this tough period and I wish you every success and happiness in 2013. Des.

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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

More from the Wedge Guy



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19th Hole

Vincenzi: Fortinet Championship First Round Leader picks



The PGA Tour begins its fall season with a trip to Wine Country as the world of golf patiently awaits the 2023 Ryder Cup which is just a few weeks away. Silverado is a course where plenty of players with varying skill sets can compete, but strong West Coast history tends to be a major factor.

In the past four editions of the Fortinet Championship, there have been six first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the six, three have started their rounds in the morning wave, and three started in the afternoon. The leading scores have all been between 63 and 65.

As of now, the winds look to be very docile, with speeds of 4-7 MPH throughout the day. I don’t see either the AM or PM wave as having a major advantage.

2023 Fortinet Championship First-Round Leader Picks

Zac Blair +9000 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 1.22 p.m PT

A big theme for me this week is targeting players who have had success at both Silverado and the West Coast in general. Blair finished 22nd here last year, and also finished 4th back in 2019. That year, he shot 66 in rounds two and three, showing his ability to go low on this track.

In 2022, Blair gained 3.8 strokes putting and in 2019, he gained 8.6. The 33-year-old seemingly has these greens figured out.

C.T. Pan +9000 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 8.23 a.m PT

At the end of the 2023 season, C.T. Pan showed flashes of what made him a good player prior to his injury struggles early in the year. He finished 4th at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, and 3rd at the RBC Canadian Open in June. He also finished 6th at Silverado back in 2021, gaining 4.5 strokes on approach and 6.6 strokes putting.

A few weeks off may have given Pan a chance to reset and focus on the upcoming fall swing, where I believe he’ll play some good golf.

Joel Dahmen +110000 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 7:28 a.m PT

After becoming a well-known name in golf due to his affable presence in Netflix’ “Full Swing” documentary, Dahmen had what can only be considered a disappointment of a 2023 season. I believe he’s a better player than he showed last year and is a good candidate for a bounce back fall and 2024.

Dahmen finished in a tie for 10th at the Barracuda Championship in late July, and the course is similar in agronomy and location to what he’ll see this week in Napa. He has some strong history on the West Coast including top-ten finishes at Riviera (5th, 2020), Pebble Beach (6th, 2022), Sherwood (8th, 2020), TPC Summerlin (9th, 2019) and Torrey Pines (9th, 2019).

James Hahn +125000 (Caesars)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:55 p.m PT

James Hahn absolutely loves golf on the West Coast. He’s won at Riviera and has also shown some course form with a 9th place finish at Silverado back in 2020. That week, Hahn gained 4.7 strokes putting, demonstrating his comfort level on these POA putting surfaces.

He finished T6 at the Barracuda back in July, and there’s no doubt that a return to California will be welcome for the 41-year-old.

Peter Malnati +125000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 12.27 p.m PT 

Peter Malnati excels at putting on the West Coast. He ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on POA and has shown in the past he’s capable of going extremely low on any given round due to his ability to catch a hot putter.

His course history isn’t spectacular, but he’s played well enough at Silverado. In his past seven trips to the course, he’s finished in the top-35 four times.

Harry Higgs +150000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 1.55 p.m PT

In what is seemingly becoming a theme in this week’s First-Round Leader column, Harry Higgs is a player that really fell out of form in 2023, but a reset and a trip to a course he’s had success at in the past may spark a resurgence.

Higgs finished 2nd at Silverado in 2020 and wasn’t in particularly great form then either. Success hasn’t come in abundance for the 31-year-old, but three of his top-10 finishes on Tour have come in this area of the country.

Higgs shot an impressive 62 here in round two in 2020, which would certainly be enough to capture the first-round lead this year.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s Fortinet Championship betting preview: California native ready for breakthrough win in Napa



After a three-week break, the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season kicks off in Napa Valley at the Silverado Resort and Spa to play the Fortinet Championship.

Prior to 2021, the event was called the Safeway Open, but the tournament sponsor changed to Fortinet with contract that will last for three more seasons. Although the name has changed multiple times, Silverado’s North Course has been featured on the PGA TOUR since 1968.

The course is a par 72, measuring at 7,166 yards. Silverado features Poa annua greens that can be tricky, especially as the surface becomes bumpier in the afternoon. The tree-lined fairways aren’t easy to hit, but the rough shouldn’t be exceedingly penal. Shorter hitters are in play on this relatively short course, and accuracy will be at a premium.

There will be a re-routing at Silverado for this year’s Fortinet Championship. Ten holes will be played in a different order. Holes 1-7 and 18 will remain as in year’s past. The new finishing stretch – No. 14 (par 4), No. 15 (par 5), No. 16 (par 4), No. 17 (par 3) and No. 18 (par 5). The new 17th was previously the 11th, which is the signature hole on the course.

The field will consist of 155 players. Being the swing season, the field for this event is usually relatively weak. However, there are some intriguing names in the field including Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Sahith Theegala, Joel Dahmen, and Kevin Kisner.

Past Winners

  • 2022: Max Homa (-22)
  • 2021: Max Homa (-19)
  • 2020: Stewart Cink (-21)
  • 2019: Cameron Champ (-17)
  • 2018: Kevin Tway (-14)
  • 2017: Brendan Steele -15
  • 2016: Brendan Steele -18

Let’s take a look at several key metrics for Silverado to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Historically, one of the North Course’s defenses will be tightly tucked pin placement, so effective shot-shaping and a higher ball flight may be an advantage this week. In order to find success, players need to hit the correct level of the sloping Poa Annua greens.

Strokes Gained: Approach past 24 rounds:

  1. Chez Reavie (+24.7)
  2. Sam Ryder (+20.0)
  3. Mark Hubbard (+17.8)
  4. Kevin Streelman (+18.3)
  5. Doug Ghim (+17.1)

Good Drives Gained

Hitting fairways in regulation at Silverado is more difficult than TOUR average, as players have done so in the past at a rate of only 52.2%. While the rough isn’t extremely long here, controlling spin out of the thick grass is much more difficult than doing so from the fairway. In order to find success, players need to hit the correct level of the sloping Poa annua greens.

In 2021, the top eight players on the leaderboard all had a positive week in “Good Drives Gained. The winner, Max Homa was +3.3 in the category and Mito Pereira, who finished third, was +8.3.

In 2022, 12 of the top 13 players on the leaderboard gained in the category including the winner Max Homa (+6.0) and runner up Danny Willet (5.0).

Good Drives Gained past 24 rounds:

  1. Doug Ghim (+24.4) 
  2. Matt NeSmith (+23.8) 
  3. Russell Knox (+20.6)
  4. Brice Garnett (+19.9)
  5. Ryan Armour (+19.8)

Par 4: 400-450

There are six par 4’s at Silverado that are between 400 and 450-yards. It will be important to target players who excel at playing these holes. With the par 5s being fairly short and reachable, the par 4 scoring may prove to be the bigger difference-maker.

Par 4: 400-450 past 24 rounds:

  1. Beau Hossler (+14.7) 
  2. Max Homa (+12.4)
  3. Garrick Higgo (+8.5)
  4. Justin Suh (+8.3)
  5. Stephan Jaeger (+8.2)

Birdie or Better: Gained

With scores at Silverado potentially approaching the 20 under par range, making plenty of birdies will be a requirement in order to contend this week.

Birdie or Better: Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Nick Hardy (+15.3)
  2. Scott Piercy (+15.2)
  3. Ryan Gerard (+14.9)
  4. Max Homa (+14.0)
  5. Peter Kuest (+13.5)

Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa Annua)

Poa annua greens on the West Coast can be quite difficult for golfers to adjust to if they don’t have much experience on the surface.

Prior to the 2019 Safeway Open, Phil Mickelson talked about how the type of putting surface is a major factor:

“I think a lot of guys struggle with the Poa annua greens, which is a grass that I grew up playing, so I’m very comfortable on the greens. When you grow up and spend most of your time back east in Florida on the Bermuda, this is a very awkward surface to putt on. The color looks different — it’s hard to sometimes read. But when you’re used to it, I don’t know of much better surfaces than these right here.”

This week it is important to look for the golfers who historically excel on Poa annua.

Total Strokes Gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Kevin Kisner (+27.7) 
  2. Max Homa (+21.2)
  3. Peter Malnati (+20.5)
  4. Justin Suh (+18.5)
  5. Mackenzie Hughes (+16.0)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: APP (25%), Good Drives Gained: (25%), Birdie or Better (20%), Par 4: 400-450 (15%), SG: Putting (Poa annua) (15%).

  1. Max Homa (+750)
  2. Doug Ghim (+5000)
  3. Andrew Putnam (+4000)
  4. Chez Reavie (+4500)
  5. Kevin Streelman (+5500)
  6. Mark Hubbard (+5000)
  7. Sam Ryder (+7000)
  8. Brendon Todd (+3500)
  9. Akshay Bhatia (+6000)
  10. Cameron Davis (+2200)

2023 Fortinet Championship Picks

Sahith Theegala +2000 (DraftKings):

Sahith Theegala is yet to break out for his maiden PGA Tour victory but is a great candidate for a player who can have a strong fall and take advantage of some weaker fields. The 26-year-old ended his season on a positive note, finishing 13th at the FedEx St. Jude and 15th at the BMW Championship.

I’ve long believed that Theegala’s first win would come on the West Coast. He grew up in California and was a three-time All-American at Pepperdine University, where he became the fifth player to win the Jack Nicklaus Award, Haskins Award and Ben Hogan award all in the same year (2020). Sahith made his PGA Tour debut at Silverado in 2020, where he finished in a tie for 14th. Last year, he finished 6th at the Fortinet Championship.

Theegala is very comfortable playing in California. That is perhaps most noticeable on the putting surface where he gains an average of +0.44 strokes on the field per event on POA, which is more than four times what he gains on Bermudagrass or Bentgrass. The POA greens at Silverado can get especially difficult late in the day, which is a reason why players with a background on them have had so much success at the course. In the past seven years of the event, five winners have come from California.

Theegala is pricey this week and is as close to the top of the odds board as I can remember him being, but that’s the nature of the PGA Tour fall season. It’s hard to find a spot on the schedule that Sahith will have a better chance at winning than this one.

Justin Suh +5000 (PointsBet)

Consistency has been an issue early in the career of Justin Suh, but he’s shown flashes in 2023 of what made him such a highly regarded prospect to begin with. After a few top-10 finishes at the PLAYERS Championship and the Honda Classic, Suh ended the season on a bit of a sour note, failing to finish better than 34th in his last five starts of the season.

Despite the struggles, I’m optimistic about Suh as we begin the fall swing. The 26-year-old made the trip to Crans-Montana, Valais, Switzerland to play in the Omega European Masters, and finished 24th in a decent field. More encouraging than the finish was how Suh hit the ball. He gained 5.24 strokes on approach and hit plenty of fairways.

The 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year grew up on California golf courses. Suh was a highly decorated amateur golfer with plenty of wins on the West Coast prior to attending USC, where he was one of the best players in the country.

When he’s on, Suh is one of the best putters on Tour, and he should comfortable playing in his home state in search of his first PGA Tour victory.

Akshay Bhatia +5500 (DraftKings):

Akshay Bhatia is still just 21 years old and one of the most tantalizing prospects in the world of golf. The smooth-swinging lefty was able to obtain his first PGA Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship at Tahoe Mountain Club in Truckee, California just a few months ago. The course is just a few hours ride from Silverado and the conditions and course should be very similar.

Bhatia will have no issue making birdies in bunches at Silverado, and the rough shouldn’t be exceedingly penal if he gets loose with his driver.

Bhatia made his debut at Silverado in 2020 at just 18 years old and managed to finish 9th. Since then, he’s gained a great deal of confidence and has refined his game as a professional.

Akshay got engaged this week. He can celebrate with a victory this week at the Fortinet.

Sam Ryder +8000 (FanDuel):

Statistically, Sam Ryder jumps off the page this week. In his past four measured starts, he’s gained 4.2, 5.4, 5.2 and 5.7 strokes on approach and is completely dialed in with his irons. Despite the numbers, he hasn’t managed to crack the top-30 on the leaderboard in that stretch but this is a field that is much weaker than he faced at the end of last season.

In addition to the recent stats, Ryder played some good golf on the West Coast last year. Most notably, he finished 4th at Torrey Pines in a loaded field and also finished 20th at both the Waste Managment Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational.

If Ryder continues with his hot approach play, he should be able to contend at Silverado this week.

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