Oakland alum Stuard bags first PGA TOUR win


PARAMUS, NJ – AUGUST 23: Brian Stuard plays his shot from the ninth tee during the third round of The Barclays at The Ridgewood Country Club on August 23, 2014 in Paramus, New Jersey. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Journeyman, n.: 2. an experienced reliable worker, athlete, or performer especially as distinguished from one who is brilliant or colorful (Merriam-Webster)

In the press conference (click here to watch) after his sudden-death Zurich Classic of New Orleans victory on Monday, Brian Stuard, Oakland Class of 2005, called himself one of those.

“[I’ve] just always grinded it out.”

It was his first PGA Tour victory and 101st start since getting his card in 2010.

He topped the Detroit Trends list on Twitter. He spoke softly:

“This means a lot.”

Stuard, Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An finished the shortened and rain-delayed tournament at -15, prompting a three-way playoff. An dropped out first, and Lovemark hooked a fairway shot on the second hole of the playoff. Stuard nailed his equivalent shot to about two feet away.

With the first place finish, he’s secured his spot in tour events for two more years, earned a place in the Players Championship May 10-15 and earned a start in the 2017 Masters.

Stuard was inducted into the Hollie L. Lepley Hall of Honor at the Black and Gold Awards in April. He won the 2005 Mid-Continent Conference title and still holds the Oakland single-season scoring record with 72.25 that same season.

It hasn’t all been roses for Stuard. Before the win, he’d been playing on conditional status, sometimes getting a tournament invite a few days before the start. 

Last year he struggled, netting one top-10 finish compared with four each in 2013-14, and ended up 128th in the FedExCup. He said lacked control over the ball.

“That’s not very fun to play that way,” Stuard said. “I started this winter, really trying to get back to being me and playing how I grew up playing, how I learned to play and what feels comfortable for me.”

Three weeks ago, he sought his coach Gary Robinson of Coldwater, Mich. to further this end.

“I saw some signs last week that it was getting there,” Stuard said. “And then for whatever reason it seemed to click a little better this week.”

His closest previous finishes were a couple of second places, one in 2010 and one in 2014.

“You just had to have the confidence to say one day it’s going to be your time,” Stuard said. “Fortunately, today was that day.”