Commentary

Robert Garrigus enjoying the ride

Updated: June 30, 2011, 8:56 PM ET
By Kevin Maguire | ESPN.com

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Robert Garrigus is nothing if not playful.

From toying with birdies (of the feathery variety) to talking to spectators, it's just who he is.

Does it help that he shot a 2-under 68 to stand two shots back of first round leaders Adam Scott and Hunter Haas at the AT&T National? Unlikely.

[+] EnlargeRobert Garrigus
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesThe short length of Robert Garrigus' putter forces the 33-year-old to hunch over when making a putt. He had to swing that club just 27 times in his opening-round 68 on Thursday at the AT&T National.

"If I was 8 over, I would be doing the same thing," Garrigus said Thursday afternoon at Aronimink Golf Club outside of Philadelphia. "I've always been that way. I've always been a guy who's not going to get down on myself or be a jerk to someone because I'm over par. That's just not who I am. I enjoy my life. I enjoy everything that I do. We're the luckiest guys on the planet to play golf for a living."

Sometimes Garrigus, 33, enjoyed life a little too much. In a recent GolfDigest.com article, he described a life of drugs and alcohol that saw him bottom out and seek treatment in 2003. But those days appear to be far in the past.

After Garrigus tied for third two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, TV viewers of the year's second major might remember him most for his celebration after making a long putt on the 18th hole before Rory McIlroy was crowned the next big thing. The raucous celebration might have seemed out of place to many, but Garrigus thought he needed it to qualify for next year's Masters. Thus, the outpouring of emotion.

What might make Garrigus more noteworthy on the golf course are his booming drives and itty-bitty putter. The man who averages 308.9 yards off the tee hunches over a flatstick that barely rises above his kneecaps. It looks as if he picked up the putter from a local miniature golf course. Granted, it's unlikely any putt-putt course offers Scotty Cameron models for its clientele to use.

With such monster clubs as his driver, how does the putter not get lost in Garrigus' golf bag? According to his caddie, Brent Henley -- whose brother Kip loops for Brian Gay on the PGA Tour -- the putter resides in the bag's umbrella holder. Not a bad idea.

As for Garrigus' drives, they often soar so high they might show up on Philadelphia International Airport's radar screens. On Thursday, his tee ball on the par-4 third hole went 345 yards, one of three to eclipse the 336-yard mark.

Sometimes those drives fail to find the fairway, a failing they exhibited often at Aronimink on Thursday. And when they do, trouble is lurking at this Donald Ross-designed layout. On the par-5 16th, Garrigus pounded a drive but found rough so thick left of the fairway that someone standing 6 feet away couldn't see the top of the ball. He toyed with hitting a wood in an attempt to reach the green in two, but wisely decided against it eventually.

For the day, Garrigus hit only six of 14 fairways but managed to find 11 of 18 greens. His 27-putt tally overall, including a 35-footer for birdie on No. 2 and a tricky downhiller for birdie on No. 6, helped him to a 2-under 33 on the front nine.

When playing partner Lucas Glover withdrew after nine holes, because of an illness according to PGA Tour officials, it left Garrigus and Bill Haas to play the back nine as a twosome while the rest of the field played in groups of three. The pair started to struggle shortly thereafter. Although Garrigus birdied No. 10, they combined to shoot 4 over on holes 11-14.

Garrigus said the trimmed-down pairing didn't hurt, but he and Haas had to wait on the tee box and on second shots on multiple holes, which certainly didn't help them gain any momentum for their rounds.

And how does Garrigus' demeanor help his golf game?

"[We] go out and have a comfortable time; bogeys don't matter, and he knows he's going to make birdies, so it makes it kind of easy," Henley said.

That playful attitude will serve him well this week as par will be a good score come Sunday.

Kevin Maguire is the senior golf editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Kevin.Maguire@espn.com.

Kevin Maguire is the senior golf editor for ESPN.com.

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