Kramer Hickok saw others like Max Homa win and decided to change coaches (and it’s been working at Valspar so far)

If you can’t beat them, hire the same coach.

That’s the logic Kramer Hickok implemented last fall when he joined swing coach Mark Blackburn, who has had success with players like Max Homa, Chez Reavie, Kevin Chappell, Sean O’Hair, Charley Hoffman and JJ Spaun. Harris English and recently Justin Rose.

But that wasn’t a quick fix. Despite the occasional flash of brilliance, like a grueling eight-hole playoff loss to Harris English at the 2021 Travelers Championship, the former University of Texas star had developed some bad habits that weren’t going away anytime soon, even under Blackburn’s tutelage.

Eventually, after missing eight straight cuts, Hickok stayed over the weekend at the Genesis Invitational in February, using a pair of 69s in the first two rounds to post a top-30 finish.

He did even better at the Honda Classic, finishing T-14 after posting an impressive 66 on Saturday. And while he didn’t really compete at last week’s Players Championship, he made his third straight cut.

And this week, Hickok aims even higher at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course. After a second 68 in a row, he was among the leaders after Friday’s early wave of action at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“It’s just a process. I switched coaches in the fall and am just making a few changes to the swing. So when I compete in tournaments, it kind of returns to my bad habits,” Hickok said of working with Blackburn. “So I can do really well on the range, but when I get to the golf course things kind of go back to the old pattern. So it’s just a matter of trusting those feelings and almost feeling like I have to exaggerate some of the feelings to get where I want to be.

“But it’s just a process. Every week it gets more comfortable for me. It’s certainly better than last week and better than a week ago. So it just comes like that.”

Hickok made a few more mistakes on Friday, including a few chips that led to bogeys in 2nd and 16th place, but he’s down 6 in the first two rounds and was just a shot behind leader Adam Schenk after the early players the tournament had left course. And there are some familiar names around Hickok on the leaderboard, as Jordan Spieth and Cody Gribble, his teammates on the University of Texas’ 2012 NCAA championship team, are also in the hunt.

But right now, Hickok isn’t thinking about college reunions or speeches. He just tries to keep it simple and lets his hot putter make the difference.

“I putted really well. Really just seeing the lines really well and hitting some good putts. I don’t really feel like I’m playing that well from tee to green, but I just keep the ball in front of me and hit it really well,” he said. “Well, I really like this golf course. It suits my game. You don’t have to have a lot of strength, just bring it around and hit it pretty straight.

“I like the way I’m sitting right now, but I need to work a bit on the swing and get back to how I felt on Wednesday and Tuesday.”

That means working with the system introduced by Blackburn. And what exactly made Hickok decide to work with his new coach?

“His boys played really well. So Max Homa played great. Chez Reavie seems to win every two years. Trey Mullinax won last year. He’s got Justin Rose, he won this year,” Hickok said. “So I just tried to follow the hot hand and he really helped me a lot, so I’m really excited about our journey together.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

Source :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *