If you created a chart representing the career of tour pro Brendon Todd, it would resemble the wildest rollercoaster ride at Six Flags.
Todd, who has lived in the Atlanta area since playing on the Georgia golf team from 2003 to ’07, ended a deep and lengthy slump Sunday with an impressive win in the inaugural Bermuda Championship.
The victory was Todd’s second on the PGA Tour, with his first coming in the Byron Nelson Classic in 2014. That win started a 6-tourrnament stretch covering less than two months in which Todd notched five top 10s and led the U.S Open at Pinehurst for 36 holes before finishing tied for 17thafter a disappointing third round showing.
Todd went on to qualify for the Tour Championship and followed with another strong season the next year, finishing in the top 50 in the FedExCup standings.
But one errant shot in the third round of the 2015 BMW Championship, the final Playoffs event prior to the Tour Championship at East Lake, sent Todd’s career into a tailspin that he did not pull out of it for more than three years.
During that time, Todd considered abandoning his career as a tour pro, but with plenty of perseverance and a little bit of help, he revived his ailing fortunes and is now exempt on the PGA Tour through the 2021-22 season.
The experience of surviving a prolonged slump was not a new one for Todd, whose pro career got off to a successful start before he hit rock bottom just three years after graduating from Georgia.
Todd went almost two years without making a cut on either the PGA or Nationwide Tours before starting his first comeback in his adopted home state. Three years later he was a winner on the PGA Tour before he again lost his game, and this time it took him more than three years to locate it.
Again, Todd’s comeback began in Georgia in late 2018 with a 61 in a qualifier for the RSM Classic at Sea Island GC. He played a limited 2019 schedule on the PGA and Web.com/Korn Ferry Tour, and with one good week in the KF Finals in August, was back on the PGA Tour a month later.
Todd did not get off to a blazing start in his return, missing his first four cuts in succession. But he turned in a successful, if less than consistent performance in Houston, shooting 76-67-74-66 tie for 28th. He followed with an exceptional showing last week in Bermuda, again putting on exceptional displays of golf in the second and fourth rounds.
After a solid 3-under 68 in the opening round, Todd vaulted into a 3-way tie for the lead after a 63 the next day, going out in 6-under 30. A third round 67 kept him in the final group Sunday, two shots off the lead.
Birdies on holes 2 and 3 on the Port Royal course, at 6,823 yards a relatively short and inviting Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout, pulled Todd into a tie for the lead, but his birdie run didn’t end there.
Firing a succession of approach shots within easy birdie range, Todd recorded seven consecutive birdies beginning at the second hole to turn in 7-under 29 and take a 5-stroke lead. After two more birdies at holes 10 and 11, Todd was 9-under for the day and seven shots clear of the field, and within range of a 59.
But he managed only one birdie over his final seven holes and suffered his only bogey of the day – just his third of the tournament — on the 18th, winding up with a 62 and a 4-stroke victory.
Todd finished at 24-under 260 for the tournament to take home the winner’s check of $540,000. The win also earned him an invitation to the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in early January, along with spots in the field of the Players Championship in March and the PGA Championship in May.
“Thrilled over the moon,” was Todd’s initial reaction to his victory, which also carries an exemption on the PGA Tour through the 2022 season.
Todd traced his most recent struggles to a wildly off-target 4 iron he hit during the third round of the 2015 BMW Championship in Chicago. He wound up shooting 76 that day, and even though he came back with a final round 70, the one bad swing stayed with him for three years.
“I lost golf balls. I was hitting in hazards and hitting it right,” Todd recalled in an interview at the Bermuda Championship. “A lot of it was mental. Some of it was the fact that I changed my swing and I basically battled that scary yip feeling all of ’16.
“Even if I had a tournament where I didn’t hit it (right), I was so scared of hitting it. I would hit to the left and chip and putt my way to a 72 and I missed a thousand cuts.
Following back-to-back quality seasons in 2014 and ’15, Todd suffered through three terrible seasons that cost him is exempt status on the PGA Tour. After tying for 26thin his first start of the 2015-16 season, Todd opened with a 65 in Las Vegas before missing the cut following a second round 77.
He made only 4 of 29 cuts the entire season, and things got even worse, as he went 1-for-15 in limited action the next two years.
At that point, Todd considered looking for a new occupation, but got some good advice from a book written by former PGA Tour pro BradleyHughes, who became his teacher. He also received some insight into battling the yips from former tour caddie WardJarvis, who has faced a non-golf type of the yips – stuttering.
With the help of Hughes and Jarvis, Todd’s game showed marked improvement in 2019, with a pair of top 20s at Quail Hollow and the John Deere Classic earning him enough points to get into the KF Finals. A tie for second in Columbus, where Todd made his tour debut in 2007, led to a seventh place finish on the Finals money list and a spot on the PGA Tour, where he will be a full-time player form the next three seasons.
After first encountering his problem with the yips, Todd was unsuccessful in his search to find a cure.
“You’re trying to find whether it’s a new teacher or a new method or whatever it is. I basically spent ’16, ’17 and ’18 doing that. I just couldn’t figure out what it was.
“But I knew that once I got things right, I just have to believe and keep going after it.”
Todd had experienced something similar earlier in his career, which started in promising fashion after a successful four years at Georgia.
During his time in Athens, Todd was a 4-time All-American, earning second team honors in 2005 and was first team as a senior in 2007. He helped lead Georgia to an NCAA Championship in 2005 along with fellow PGA Tour members Chris Kirk and Kevin Kisner, tying for seventh. He won three times in college including the 2004 SEC as a freshman and an NCAA Regional as a senior.
Shortly after graduating, Todd won tournaments on the now defunct Hooters and eGolf Tours and qualified for the Nationwide Tour in his first attempt. He made his first start in ’08 at Jennings Mill outside Athens and tied for 25th, and ran off three top 10s in the next month in Valdosta, Greenville and Raleigh. Another strong stretch of play later in the Summer ended with a 6-stroke victory in Utah, and he ended up 20thon the money list to move up to the PGA Tour in 2009.
Todd tied for 12thin Memphis, the best showing of a respectable first half of his rookie season, but he missed his last nine cuts, shooting under par in just one round during that span.
That sent him back to the Nationwide Tour in 2010, and he went the entire year without making a cut, going 0-for-13. By early in the ’11 season his consecutive missed cut had reached a combined 27 in a row before he tied for 18that Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta. He also made the cut the next week at the UGA course in Athens and added a pair of top 10s later in the season.
Todd closed out the year by winning the qualifying finals for the 2012 PGA Tour and played better in his second season, finishing just inside the top 150 in the FedExCup standings. He split his 2013 season between the two tours and played well on both, collecting a second Nationwide/Web.com win in Athens when the final round was washed out.
He again finished strong, tying for second in the Web.com Tour Championship to end up 11thin earnings to regain his exempt status on the PGA Tour. His next two seasons produced a win, 11 top 10s and over $5 million in earnings before his rollercoaster ride of a career again bottomed out for the next three years.
One year after having to qualify for the RSM Classic, Todd will return to Sea Island GC, in a much better place than he was when he teed it up on Monday before the tournament at Brunswick CC.