It wasn’t that long ago – about a year ago in fact – that Brendon Todd sat with his wife, Rachel, and his business manager and contemplated a career change.
Mired in what Todd calls a three-year “episode,” it was time to consider his options. He could buy some restaurant franchises. He could look into college coaching. Friends had told him he’d be great in the corporate world with his PGA Tour background that included a victory in the 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship.
No more 4-iron shots like the one he hit in the third round of the 2015 BMW Championship that started right, flew farther right and disappeared into the brush at Conway Farms Golf Club outside Chicago, leading to a triple bogey that eventually derailed his career.
Todd lived in fear of that shot and, in something similar to a self-fulfilling prophecy, he kept hitting it. Then hitting a 3-wood shot in the air became a dance with the devil.
The game is hard enough in good times. Disappear into the darkness like Todd did and there’s often no way back.
That’s why Todd’s victory Sunday in the PGA Tour’s inaugural Bermuda Championship was one of the most heartwarming stories of the season.
Remember when Cameron Champ won the Safeway Open in September after a bad stretch last season, finding the form that had gone missing? That flat spell lasted less than a year. Todd went more than three years looking for corners in a round room.
“When I missed the cut at Reno in 2018 then missed qualifying for the Wyndham Championship, I told the guys I played with that I didn’t know if I was going to keep playing,” Todd said from Bermuda one day after his victory there.
“If I hadn’t made the cut (at the 2018 RSM Classic), I think I may have done one of those business things.” – Brendon Todd
Here’s how close Todd came to giving it up: He got into the RSM Classic at Sea Island last November by shooting 61 in the Monday qualifier and he made the cut there, finishing T54.
“If I hadn’t made the cut there, I think I may have done one of those business things,” Todd said.
Now he’s won for the second time in a PGA Tour career that hasn’t followed a straight line. He entered 2019 having made the cut in just six of his previous 41 starts but Todd could feel his game returning. He’d been through something similar before – missing the cut in 18 consecutive starts from 2009 through 2011 on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour – but this was potentially career ending.
With the help of swing coach Bradley Hughes, Todd retooled his swing to minimize the big misses and gradually his faith in himself came back. Not instantly, but over time.
At the John Deere Classic last summer, Todd realized something had changed.
“It was big for me,” Todd said. “I hadn’t hit one of those really far right shots all year but I still feared it. That was the first time I realized I didn’t fear it.”
Two shots off the lead starting the final round in Bermuda, Todd dispensed with the drama in a hurry. He played his first 11 holes in 9-under par to turn the tournament into his own welcome-back party.
“Realistically, I could have birdied the first 12 holes,” Todd said. “Every shot was going where I wanted.”
It was like going back to a favorite place you never thought you’d see again – only better.
“Ah, man, it really is kind of a dream come true based on where I was the last few years,” Todd said. “But on the flip side, I look at it like I’ve always been capable of it. I should have played more like that. I think the next few years could be really good.”
The time has arrived for Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to name their four respective Presidents Cup captain’s picks.
Els will make his announcement at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday while Woods will reveal his four choices on Thursday at 7 p.m. EST
On the International side, I’m going with Jason Day, Joaquin Niemann, Byeong Hun An and Sungjae Im.
Day seems a natural because, well, he’s Jason Day and the event is being played in Australia. Niemann won A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier earlier this fall and at age 20 he could be part of the International team core going forward.
An has three top-10s in tour events this fall and Im was last season’s PGA Tour rookie of the year, not just because he played practically every week but because he’s consistently impressive.
That leads us to Tiger and his U.S. team.
It would be a stunner if Woods doesn’t add himself to the playing roster and, unless there’s a physical issue we’re unaware of, there’s no reason he shouldn’t play. He just won, he’s No. 6 in the world and he’s Tiger Woods.
Two other players – Tony Finau and Gary Woodland – seem secure, leaving just one more choice.
It’s likely down to Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler, though Kevin Kisner could be a dark-horse pick. Fowler finished 11th in points but he’s taking an 11-week break that will end when he plays the Mayakoba Golf Classic next week. Reed hasn’t been great this fall but he’s been playing, which may be enough to nail down the last spot on Tiger’s team.
Whether Woods picks Reed or Fowler, there’s still a chance the other could be added to the team if Brooks Koepka’s injured knee keeps him home.
Brendon Todd emerged from the shadows to win the Bermuda Championship. Photo: Rob Carr, Getty Images
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