Spencer Levin is admittedly not quite used to this.
At the Shriners Open, Levin finds himself in unusual territory: gearing up for a weekend round after blasting through the cutline at 6 under par. The 38-year-old pro has, in fact, not played a weekend round on the PGA Tour in five years — his last Sunday round on the big tour coming way back in October 2017. And the weirdness doesn’t end there. Levin’s weekend surge has come with the Shriners most interesting putting stroke, one bearing a striking resemblance to another historically hot-and-cold player: Happy Gilmore.
Yes, Levin’s hockey-style, Happy Gilmore-imitating putting stroke earned some quick love from the folks around the PGA Tour this week. And as it turns out, his play has backed it up, too. In very traditional Gilmore fashion this week at the Shriners, Levin ranks first in fairways and greens hit, second in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and … last in the field in strokes gained: putting.
The up-and-down performance has not deterred Levin from scoring well at TPC Summerlin, where he sits at 6 under after the conclusion of Friday’s second round of play. He enters the weekend just a handful of strokes behind tournament leader Mito Pereira, ostensibly within striking distance should his putter get hot on Saturday afternoon. In fact, with Levin losing some five strokes to the field putting, even just a tournament average performance could be enough to land him in the thick of contention come Sunday.
But, as he explained to the PGA Tour on Wednesday, the current state of his putting stroke is, much like Happy, due to some previous failures with the flatstick in his hand.
“I just wasn’t putting very good, and then I was fooling around with a split-grip on a normal putter,” he said. “Then I remembered that my old man had this putter in his garage where it was kinda designed the way I’m doing it.”
The putter, Levin explained, is meant to be used with an open stance in order to deter wrist action. That’s illegal now under the Rules of Golf, so Levin adopted the open-stance, slap-shot look that Gilmore popularized in the movie.
“I just borrowed it and the first day I used it I putted it great,” he said. “So I’ve been using it ever since.”
At the Shriners, what the putting stroke has lacked in consistency, it’s more than made up in style points.
“I just heard somebody else saying it, another guy came up to me and said ‘what’s up happy Gilmore?'” Levin said with a laugh.
This weekend, Spencer Levin will cash a PGA Tour check for the first time in five years. That’s good news. But if he wants it to be a substantial one, perhaps he should follow some advice from Mr. Gilmore himself.
“Just tap it in.”