Island tour

PGA Tour pro Brendon Todd shoots straight at RBC Heritage

Brendon Todd scored five birdies in the second round at RBC Heritage on Friday on his way to a 68 that will ensure he makes the cut and plays this weekend.

Todd, who spent a lot of time vacationing and playing tournament golf on Hilton Head Island as a child, drove the ball well. That’s an important stat for Todd. For three years, from 2016 to 2019, he suffered from “driver yapping”, which caused him to miss countless cuts.

“It was tough,” Todd said after returning his second-round scorecard to Legacy. “A lot of people wouldn’t even keep playing.”

Todd, 36, of Watkinsville, Georgia, did not quit when many would have. With the help of a South Carolina-based swing coach, who offered different types of drills, he hits straight and makes cuts again.

On Friday, Todd hit 10 of 14 fairways from the tee. And his short game, his strength, which never left him during his three years of starvation, was strong as usual. He made a 23-for-4 birdie putt and a 30-for-six birdie putt. He also made birdie putts at 11, 12 and 13. When the wind picked up, sometimes blowing at 30 mph, he gave two shots again with bogies at 14 and 18″ but 68, to move to the ‘inside the cut line and get a weekend crack,’ Todd said, ‘that’ll be good.

His 140 in two rounds is two under par and five behind the leaders on Friday afternoon.

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Brendon Todd on the 12th hole during the second round of the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing Friday, April 15, 2022, at Harbor Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Scott Schroeder for The Island Packet

Todd attended high school in Cary, NC and grew up playing against PGA Tour pro Webb Simpson in the Raleigh, NC area. He’s been playing Hilton Head golf courses, including junior tournaments, since he was 12 because his family vacations here.

Todd joined the tour in 2009.

In 2014, his earnings were $3.4 million and he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

By 2015, he earned $1.8 million and finished in the top 10 four times.

Then the yips hit.

“I was kicking the ball to the right and losing the ball,” Todd said with a laugh. “Most people would call it the yelping driver. I hit enough bad shots each round to shoot 74 instead of 68 or 70.”

In 2016, he participated in 29 events and missed 25 cups.

In 2017, he appeared in 9 events and missed 8 cups, and his PGA Tour earnings dropped to $14,925.

2018: Six events, six cups.

Then he started working with swing instructor Bradley Hughes, a former PGA Tour pro from Melbourne, Australia who lives in Greenville SC.

“It’s more old school teaching than today’s ideas,” said Hughes, who was watching Todd’s second round on Friday, of what he teaches. “But it’s still golf.”

Hughes had Todd do a series of drills designed to help him align the clubface so he hits the ball solidly.

“I couldn’t have done it without him because I went through a handful of teachers and no one summed it up like he did and got me to practice like he did,” Todd said.

Drills take place away from the golf course or on the driving range, Todd said. For example, he hit a “contact bag” with his clubs repeatedly, learning to line up the club with each hand and move through the golf ball.

“It’s a lot about feeling certain pressures in the golf swing rather than trying to get the golf club in a certain place,” Todd said. “It’s more like ‘feel this pressure here, feel this pressure here’, and it’s going to make the golf club work the right way.”

In 2020, Todd won the Mayakoba Golf Classic and then the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2021, earning the biggest payday of his career, $1.3 million.

Entering the Legacy, Todd had made the cut in nine of the 14 events he entered in 2022. He also finished one top 10 and four top 60 en route to earning $724,285 in 2022.

His goals haven’t changed since joining the PGA Tour in 2009: Winning tournaments and playing in majors and working towards making the FedExCup Finals.

“All you’re trying to do is try to win every week, but enjoy the game and the competition on the greatest circuit in the world,” Todd said.

His father, Martin, made the trip to Harbor Town Golf Links to watch over his son. He participates in five to six tournaments a year. Brendon’s game, he says, is in good shape. And he’s proud of how he bounced back. He likes his chances at RBC Heritage.

“He hits the ball straight,” Martin Todd said. “He knows where it’s going. It is an excellent putter and an excellent chipper. He should be able to do well.

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Brendon Todd on the 11th hole during the second round of the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing Friday, April 15, 2022, at Harbor Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Scott Schroeder for The Island Packet

This story was originally published April 15, 2022 3:11 p.m.

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Karl Puckett covers the town of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and other communities north of the Broad River for The Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet. The Minnesota native has also worked at newspapers in his home state of Alaska, Wisconsin and Montana.