It’s hard to keep a defending champion out of the top 10 in an alternate field event, but it’s one of few saving graces for the 27-year-old sophomore.
Fresh off of the Web.com Tour, Gribble burst onto the scene with a T8 at his first start with full status, the Safeway Open, then won the next week at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The University of Texas graduate hasn’t been able to keep the momentum rolling into 2017. He’s made just 10 of 25 cuts in 2017 and his best finish in a full field event was T30 at the Northern Trust.
Gribble was 66th out of 77 in his last start last week at the CJ Cup in South Korea. Jet lag could be an issue, but he’s coming back to a place of past success.
Plus, the win so early in the 2016-17 season assures him playing status through 2018-19. That should help to free him up as he gets a second look at most of the courses he’ll see this season.
Gribble followed an opening 73 with a tournament-low 63 at last year’s SFC en route to closing with three rounds in the 60s for a four-stroke win. He hit 15 of 18 greens and scrambled and putted beautifully.
Amidst his struggles in 2016-17, Gribble still finished 21st on Tour in strokes gained putting. He was also 41st in driving distance, so the onus will be on his irons this week (106th GIR).