Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley is determined to block out the noise.
What a racket the Bellarmine Prep product created when he lost in dramatic fashion at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open in 2012, then a week later, rebounded to capture the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Recognized as one of the emerging elite ball-strikers on the world’s biggest professional golf tour, Stanley signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike. His career was suddenly peaking toward stardom.
Almost as quickly, the buzz disappeared.
No longer with full-time PGA Tour status, Stanley has returned to the Web.com Tour for 2015 — something he could have never imagined after winning so quickly on the PGA Tour.
But it is not all bad, he said.
“The past, whether good or bad, is not really something I am dwelling on right now,” Stanley said. “I am concerned with my development as a player, and my long-term outlook and not my short-term outlook.
“What I am trying to do is build some confidence and get back to where I have been. The Web.com Tour will be the platform for that.”
After that 2012 PGA Tour season in which he made nearly $2.4 million in earnings, his production dipped to $473,581 last season.
Finishing outside the top 125 on the money list, Stanley had to go to the Web.com Tour Finals last fall to secure his PGA Tour card for 2014-15, which he failed to do.
It would be easy to pinpoint one area giving him problems: Putting. In the past two seasons, Stanley ranked 176th on tour in strokes gained in putting, losing nearly one stroke per round to the field.
“If you look at my game historically, my putting statistics have never really been that good,” Stanley said. “But I had found a way to play good golf, because I’d been a guy who relied on my ball-striking.”
Stanley admits now that “too many outside voices” crept into his head about putting, only unsettling him more.
“I have a different mentality to practice putting to get better ... and not fix a problem,” Stanley said. “I’ve always played my best golf when I kept the game simple.”
But he attributed his ball-striking — and in particular, his shot shape — as another reason for the drop off.
Two years ago, Stanley’s longtime instructor Mike Taylor suggested he try and play more cuts — or left-to-right shots.
Stanley said he tried changing for the better part of 18 months, but felt like he was losing too much distance, and moreover, his comfort and identity as a long hitter.
In the fall, Stanley decided to make a move and split from Taylor, and start retooling his swing on his own.
“With the draw (right-to-left shot shape), I am releasing the club better, and the ball has got more pop to it getting back to my old distances,” Stanley said. “Historicallty, it was nice to overpower some of the golf courses I played in the past.”
With limited playing status, Stanley played in six PGA Tour tournaments earlier this season. Now his entire focus is on the Web.com Tour the rest of the year.
“It is a little bit quieter — and maybe for me right now that isn’t a bad thing,” Stanley said. “I am still confident in my preparation. I have not really seen the results, and that is discouraging. One of the hardest things to do is be patient. I am working hard, and I know that will pay off at some point.”