CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Chris Stroud is known by friends as Mr. Positivity, but even he couldn’t have imagined he’d be playing in the PGA Championship this week, let alone have a chance of win it.
Stroud has become the surprise story of the tournament, teeing off in the final paring Sunday alongside tournament leader Kevin Kisner.
The fact he’s even here is an amazing story.
An 11-year PGA Tour veteran, the 35-year-old Stroud had played in 288 PGA Tour events, but had never won until capturing the Barracuda Championship last Sunday.
He made three birdies and an eagle to forge his way into a three-way playoff at Montreaux Golf and Country Club, and then won with a two-putt birdie on the second extra hole.
The win gave Stroud an automatic entry into the PGA Championship and a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
“To finally get a win was really magical,” Stroud said. “I’m still on cloud nine.”
Stroud, who is tied for second place at 6 under, one shot behind Kisner, said he won’t change his approach Sunday.
Despite his positive demeanor, Stroud admits he did get frustrated at times playing golf in the shadows of others like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
During his first three or four years on tour, he would get mad at himself when he didn’t play well.
But eventually he started to level out emotionally. Finally, he said he came to terms with the notion his career goals might never come to fruition.
“I said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I’m ever going to win. I don’t know if I can be No. 1 in the world. I don’t know if I’m good enough. I don’t know anything,” Stroud said. “All I’m going to do is I’m going to do this every day. I’m going to go out there and play. I love this game. I’m going to respect it. I’m going to be grateful to be out here. I wake up every day and say, ‘I’m grateful to have a chance to play. I’m healthy. And just let it fall into place.’”