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“Yeah, he’s running hot:’ Jason Kokrak explains the benefits of a meltdown

Jason Kokrak

Jason Kokrak, on the 435-yard par-4 7th on Sunday at Colonial, hit his third shot from the left greenside bunker. And his fourth. On his first effort from the sand during the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge, Kokrak slightly de-accelerated into the ball, and it went about three yards. From there, in a 15-second sequence, Kokrak stepped back, stepped forward, smacked his ball out and walked out of the bunker. 

“What I did see was a guy who got right back and hit that second bunker shot very quickly,” analyst Dottie Pepper said on CBS’ broadcast. “That to me was not a great sign. Gather yourself up and give yourself a chance to let the situation stabilize.” 

“When you duff a bunker shot, you then automatically think of the second shot, like, why am I here?” analyst Nick Faldo added. 

Kokrak’s reaction was less existential than that. 

Jason Kokrak wins Charles Schwab Challenge, denies Jordan Spieth
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He’d make the 4-foot bogey putt and see his one-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth drop to none. He’d then heave his ball away. “Why am I here?” More like “Why is this ball here?” 

“Whoa, OK,” announcer Jim Nantz said on the broadcast.  

“Yeah, he’s running hot,” Faldo said.  

Though this website advocates something more subtle, it turns out a good ball chuck was all Kokrak needed. 

On the next hole, the 175-yard par-3 8th, he hit his tee shot to 6 feet, rolled in the birdie putt and retook his lead. He birdied the par-5 11th on a 13-foot putt. He birdied the par-3 13th on a 17-footer to build a two-shot lead, and he’d hang on from there for his second PGA Tour win. 

“I think any time you make a bogey when you’re around the lead, I think it kind of sets a little fire under you, and I was just really more disappointed with my bunker shot,” said Kokrak, who also failed to get out of a greenside bunker on the 1st, though that was from a one-foot-in-the-bunker-one-foot-out stance. “It wasn’t an easy bunker shot. Not sticking to the stuff that’s been working for me, and I got a little bit out of sorts. Getting that aggression out on the golf ball is going to do more for me than hanging my head and doing anything else.

“I stood up on the next tee on 8 and made a great shot, made birdie and tried to hit each shot and stay in the moment.”

With a new ball. 

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