PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Robert Garrigus can’t recall a better performance going into the weekend. And his golf has been pretty good, too.
Garrigus spent most of the practice days fishing in the lakes of Innisbrook, catching nearly three dozen bass. As for his day job, he bagged 10 birdies over two days and delivered the best score of the tournament, a 5-under 66 on Friday, to build a three-shot lead in the Valspar Championship.
His only other PGA Tour victory was a little more than an hour away at Disney, and Garrigus offered a simple explanation.
“It’s the fishing,” he said.
Garrigus didn’t play a single practice round the year he won Disney. He arrived at Innisbrook on Monday and fished that evening, most of Tuesday and then for about five hours Wednesday without ever looking at the Copperhead course.
“I think that puts me in a good frame of mind because I’m clear and not thinking about anything, just going out and having some fun,” he said.
Garrigus, one of the longest hitters in golf, has made birdie on all of the par 5s both rounds. That has contributed mightily to being at 7-under 135, three shots clear of Kevin Na going into a weekend with a Masters spot potentially up for grabs.
Only five of the top 22 on the leaderboard already are eligible for the Masters.
Na had a 68, while the group four shots behind included Pat Perez (71), Matteo Manassero (70) and Justin Rose (68), who is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7. Matt Every shot a 71 in the afternoon and joined them at 3-under 139.
The three-shot lead is the largest through 36 holes in the 14-year history of this tournament.
Garrigus is about the only player who has made it look easy, even though he felt as stressed as anyone on the Copperhead course, regarded by many as perhaps the best tournament course in Florida. Only 17 players broke 70.