How did a statistically poor putter shoot a 12-under? He played without a line.
Sebastian Munoz’s imagination was being boxed in by a line.
Thursday was his masterpiece. Nine birdies. Two eagles. One bogey — that was followed by a 10-under-over-10-holes finishing kick during Thursday’s first round of the Byron Nelson. A 12-under 60 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, played about a half-hour east of where Munoz went to college, at North Texas. And while we know the answer to the question of how he felt Thursday compared to other rounds in his seven-year professional career — breaking: 12-under 60s do NOT feel bad! — his answer gives us a bit of a portrait of this artist.
“It’s a great feeling whenever everything is clicking, hitting the tee shots, ball is coming out in the window that you imagined, the putts, that you’re reading good the putts,” he said. “The speed. When everything is going, it’s just stay out of the way and just kind of let it happen. So that’s what I did. I mean, I had a tough putt on 12 for eagle, and like I was thinking like, it’s OK if I don’t make this one. Then it was like, I know I can make it; just kind of stay in it; trust what you’re doing; let’s keep it going. I made it.
“And then on 13, looked like it was just a little long. Yeah, coming in it was a great stretch and really happy.”
“Do you think less or more?” a reporter followed up with.
“No, way less,” he said. “Way less, yeah.”
Look at some of those words above. Imagined. Let it happen. The 29-year-old from Colombia plays on feel. And maybe nowhere was he feeling it less, he believed, than with his putter.
Munoz can knock it around fine. The 29-year-old from Colombia can flush it with the best of them — during the Byron Nelson first round, he gained a whopping 10.205 strokes on the field. But then you get to his stats on the green, and you see what’s been holding him back. This year, he’s 180th (!) in Strokes Gained: Putting. Over the past three seasons, he’s been 80th, 94th and 101st.
Munoz’s imagination, it turns out, was being boxed in by a line.
“I’m putting with the PLD Anser, no lines on it, just black,” he said. “I felt like it really helps me kind of free up my imagination. Sometimes the line doesn’t look good either left to right or right to left, so not having the line give me a little more freedom and more of a putt instead of trying to make a perfect stroke.
“I feel like that has really helped me out this week.”
Can it continue? Who’s to say? Putting is a fickle thing. Five times on Thursday, he made putts of over 10 feet, and those could go left, right, short or long on Friday.
“Today, I don’t know,” Munoz said. “I just kind of kept it going and I just wanted to get more looks, more looks and more chances, and I just kind of went crazy with it.”
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