Had University Place’s Andrew Putnam not played one of his worst rounds of golf on the final day of the 2013 Web.com Tour season, Pierce County would have five golfers on the PGA Tour, not four.
But as it stands, Putnam is back on the Web.com Tour for a second season, hungrier and more determined than ever.
The 25-year-old younger brother of PGA Tour member Michael Putnam was deflated after shooting a 5-over-par 75 in the final round of the Web.com Tour Championship last September at Dye’s Valley Course to fall off the leaderboard.
He ended up finishing 69th in the Web.com playoffs; the top 50, including Michael Putnam, earned their PGA Tour cards for 2014.
Yet, further removed from that fateful day, Andrew Putnam has not only found closure, he gained perspective. Nearly 4 1/2 months later, as he is set to open the 2014 Web.com Tour season Thursday in Colombia, the Life Christian Academy graduate said that disastrous round was one of the best things that could have happened to him.
“I was scoring well the whole tournament, but I wasn’t controlling my golf ball like I was at the beginning of the year,” Putnam said. “My putting was keeping me in it.”
Putnam said he knew in the closing weeks of last season that he has virtually lost control of his tee-to-green game.
“I felt there were a few loose points to my swing,” Putnam said. “I did not have much direction, so I felt like I was my own swing instructor. And at that point, you just patch it up ... and develop bad habits without that concrete direction.
“When the pressure rounds came, my swing was holding me back.”
So Putnam made some very key changes in the offseason:
* Like his brother, once Putnam left Pepperdine, he moved back to University Place. But over the winter, he and a few friends moved to Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It was in the back of my mind throughout last season,” Putnam said. “I knew I wanted to move south and get a place where I could work on my game year-round.
* Putnam wanted a new set of eyes to guide his golf swing. On the suggestion of his agent Ralph Cross, he booked an appointment with a swing instructor from Alabama – Mark Blackburn.
So three weeks after his final tournament, Putnam met Blackburn – who has worked with the likes of Robert Karlsson, Boo Weekley, Heath Slocum and now Kevin Chappell – in Arizona.
“I like to question everything my swing instructor tells me, and have him explain it all,” Putnam said. “The golf swing is very technical ... and Mark was able to explain what he was trying to do by using different technology – TrackMan, Pro Tracer and Swing Path.
“He had all the answers for me.”
Blackburn is now Putnam’s full-time swing coach.
* And perhaps the biggest surprise was that Putnam hired a new caddie for 2014.
Last season, cousin Greg Bodine was on the bag – much like he had been off and on since 2010 when Putnam was an amateur.
But Bodine had a chance to caddie for Spokane’s Alex Prugh on the PGA Tour this season, and took it. Johnny MacArthur, also a former Pepperdine golfer, is Putnam’s new caddie.
“My goal this season is that I want to win early,” Putnam said. “Michael, he won one-third of the way through the season, and it takes a little bit of the pressure off of you.
“My long-term goal is making the PGA Tour. Last year was pretty tough ... but a golf career is a long journey, and everyone has ups and downs.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442
LOCAL GOLFERS ON WEB.COM TOUR
ANDRES GONZALES FILE
- Age: 30.
- Hometown: Olympia.
- Residence: Lakewood.
- Schools: Capital/UNLV.
- 2013 season: Made three of 17 cuts, posted one top-10 finish and totaled $179,387 on the PGA Tour.
- World ranking heading into 2014: 563rd.
- Caddie: To be determined.
- Swing instructor: Ann Marie Gildersleeve.
- Agent: None.
- In the bag: Callaway X2 Hot driver, Callaway X Hot 4-wood, Adams Golf Idea Pro (20 degrees), Callaway Razr Fit muscle-back irons, Scratch wedges (52, 56, 60 degrees), Odyssey Versa 2-ball putter, Titleist Pro V1 (2009) golf ball.
- Endorsements: Callaway, Titleist, Travis Mathew Apparel.
ANDREW PUTNAM FILE
- Age: 25.
- Hometown: University Place.
- Residence: Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Schools: Life Christian Academy/Pepperdine.
- 2013 season: Made 15 of 24 cuts, posted two top-10 finishes and totaled $115,608 on the Web.com Tour.
- World ranking heading into 2014: 660th.
- Caddie: Johnny MacArthur.
- Swing instructor: Mark Blackburn.
- Agent: Ralph Cross.
- In the bag: Cleveland Classic driver, Cleveland DST 3-wood, Adams Idea A3 Boxer hybrid (18 degrees), Cleveland 588 CB irons, Cleveland 588 wedges, Odyssey Pro-Type 2-ball putter, Srixon Z-star XV Red golf balls.
- Endorsements: Cleveland Golf/Srixon, Sligo Wear, Biourja, PlayKleen Towels.
- Todd Milles, staff writer