CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Brendon Todd’s 12-stroke, so-called “collapse” at the U.S. Open has been well-documented, but his perspective on the event can make even the most hardened golfer blush.
Todd’s story is more than about fighting his way back from the Web.com Tour or a bad round here or there.
The Pittsburgh native scratched and clawed from what can be considered nothing short of the bottom of the professional golf barrel.
From turning pro in 2008 to winning his first major this year and four consecutive top-20 finishes has made the soon-to-be 29-year old realize that it’s never as bad as it could be.
It’s all about perspective for the former University of Georgia four-time All-American who was a member of the Bulldogs’ 2005 national championship team.
“I fell to the lowest of lows,” said Todd, who is playing in this week’s Quicken Loans National at Congressional before teeing off in the Greenbrier Classic on July 3. “I’m not sure very many people in golf fell as far as I did. I had to work all the way back.”
Todd joined the Nationwide Tour — now the Web.com Tour — in 2008 where a win in the Utah Championship and a 19th-place finish on the money list earned him a 2009 spot in the PGA Tour.
In the Athens Regional Foundation Classic, one of four Nationwide events he played that year, Todd had holes in one on the same hole in back to back rounds.
He used a 7-iron in the first round when the hole played 157 yards and clubbed down to an 8-iron the next day when it played 147 yards.
“(In the second round) I made bogey on the last hole and I was mad,” he said. “I asked my caddie what it was and he said 153. I went right at the flag. I wasn’t trying to make it two days in a row, I was just trying to make birdie or par. It was luck.”
That was a bright light on an otherwise dim season for the PGA Tour rookie, who made only five of 21 cuts and didn’t earn his tour card for 2010.
He went from the Web.com Tour and went “really downhill,” playing one- and two-day events in the Hilton Atlanta Golf Tour and the Peach State Tour — a collection of 18- and 36-hole tournaments.
“I made my first cut in about a year on the Hooters Tour in 2011,” he said. “Lee Westwood supposedly fell off, but he still makes cuts and he’s a great player.”
Westwood’s first season on the PGA Tour was 1995, he had one win, one second-place finish and 13 top 10s in the next 13 seasons. Since then, the 41-year-old Westwood won the 2010 St. Jude Classic in a playoff and has four second-place finishes, six third-places and 29 top 10s.
“That experience, unquestionably, has given me the right perspective to understand nothing is really that bad,” Todd said. “If you have a bad round, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad player.”
His two-year stint on the Nationwide Tour eventually rejuvenated his game, returning to the PGA Tour in 2014. He was medalist in the season-ending qualifying school in 2011 and his finish of 150th on the PGA Tour’s money list gave him conditional status, helping him avoid the second round of Q school and giving him full Web.com Tour status.
At long last, he finished 20th on the 2013 Web.com money list, earning Todd his 2014 PGA Tour card.
In his 77th PGA Tour star, he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship, giving him his two-year tour exemption. His tie for fifth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial moved him inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings earning him entry into the U.S. Open.
It was a long, strange trip for the former North Carolina high school state champion, making history as a freshman when he won the title in the first year of Green Hope High School’s existence.
What he learned since turning pro in 2007 can’t come from anything other than the toughness he acquired through experience.
“It helps you in weeks off, not feeling like you have to go find your game, find the next golf tournament because that rarely works anyway,” he said. “It allows you to take five days off, rest, hang out with your wife and family, then show up ready to go to work.”
He played four consecutive events once this season and didn’t enter the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.
“It’s been a great season so far,” he said. “Last year I played really solid and I had about a 70 scoring average. What it comes down to this year is more starts and the same level of play.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail