Golf

Why is this Tour pro having one of his worst years? 1 word

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Troy Merritt hits a shot on Thursday on the 17th hole at TPC Deere Run.
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Troy Merritt, after having one of the best seasons of his 13-year PGA Tour career, is having one of his worst. Of course, these things can attract attention, and this was no exception. 
“Troy Merritt is playing the weekend for the third time this year,” tweeted Chris Murphy, a reporter for the Action Network, earlier this week. “The second was last week at the RM and prior to that he had not made a cut since the Sony Open (!!), the first full field tournament of the year. He had gone basically six full months without a paycheck. Wild.”
“Incredible,” responded ‘The Model Maniac,’ a contributor for the RotoBaller site. “It would so interesting to hear how he has dealt with this kind of adversity. I wonder if @TROYMERRITT_PGA would care to shed a little light on how he coped with this kind run of form after having his best statistical year in 2022. Seriously incredible resilience that I hope pats off soon”
About an hour later, Merritt responded. 
Let’s first, though, look at the 37-year-old pro’s 2021-22 season. It was good. Two top 10s. Seven top 25s. A finish of 62nd in the FedEx Cup. The stats were solid, too, as The Model Maniac noted. These were his Strokes Gained rankings: 54th in total; 81st in tee to green; 58th in off the tee; 105th in approach the green; 116th in around the green; and 43rd in putting. 
Then Merritt crashed, as also noted. The results? Three cuts made in 17 events this year. The stats? These are his Strokes Gained numbers this season: 166th in total; 132nd in tee to green; 157th in off the tee; 123rd in approach the green; 101st in around the green; and 178th in putting. 
Which brings us back to the Twitter conversation. And the response. The reasoning was one just word, though it’s far from simple.  
Yips. 
Wrote Merritt on Twitter: ““It’s a new experience, and very difficult to deal with, when your putter has been the best part of your game your whole life, and you develop the yips… I always thought they were a myth, but THEY ARE REAL!! Been battling hard to figure out a way to get through them. Still time…”
It’s a new experience, and very difficult to deal with, when your putter has been the best part of your game your whole life, and you develop the yips…
I always thought they were a myth, but THEY ARE REAL!! Been battling hard to figure out a way to get through them. Still time… https://t.co/7r2GYU6YUQ
If you’re unfamiliar, yips are not new to golf; multiple pros have battled them. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notably defines them this way: “The yips are involuntary wrist spasms that occur most commonly when golfers are trying to putt. However, the yips also can affect people who play other sports — such as cricket, darts and baseball. It was once thought that the yips were always associated with performance anxiety. However, it now appears that some people have the yips due to a neurological condition affecting specific muscles. This condition is known as focal dystonia. Changing the way you perform the affected task might help you find relief from the yips. For example, a right-handed golfer might try putting left-handed.”
In Merritt’s case, he’s fighting. So let’s continue the conversation. It was revealing. It was sincere. 
Replied The Model Maniac to Merritt: “Hoooooly cow my man! Just out of no where… Golf is SUCH a weird game! Have you changed putters/grips/routines or how have you gone about tackling something like this? Or is it just grinding through it till things feel normal again?”
Wrote Merritt: “There’s been a lot of tweaking and changing. What I’ve realized is to go back to making it simple. It hasn’t completely solved the problem, but there have been plenty more positive strokes. You can’t miss short putts out here and keep your job, hence my current predicament…”
Wrote Merritt again: “I’ve always battled through issues. The problem with this issue is that it only pops up during tournament rounds. I don’t have any issues in practice rounds, fun rounds, or pre tournament round practice. You can’t simulate tournament golf. It’s the hardest battle I’ve ever faced.”
He had one more tweet. 
I appreciate all the people that have shared stories and advice when it comes to the yips. I had a solid putting stroke day, and made all but the last putt from inside 8 feet. Hit a lot of really nice putts, but didn’t find the hole too often from range. Battling on every putt✅
During the third round on Saturday at the John Deere Classic, Merritt was 26th in the SG: Putting. 
“I appreciate all the people that have shared stories and advice when it comes to the yips,” he wrote. “I had a solid putting stroke day, and made all but the last putt from inside 8 feet. Hit a lot of really nice putts, but didn’t find the hole too often from range. Battling on every putt.”

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.
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