IRVING — Cody Gribble has put together a memorable rookie season on the PGA Tour, even if the result at his hometown tournament was one he’d rather forget.
Such is the up-and-down nature of life on golf’s biggest stage for a newcomer. The former Highland Park standout is trying to focus on the positives, such as his victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, rather than dwelling on disappointments such as a missed cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
“I’m trying to learn everything I can, and there’s even more stuff that I’m picking up subconsciously. It’s been a great experience so far. I know that I’m able to do it. I just have to keep my head down and stay focused,” Gribble said. “You’ve got to have short-term memory out here, as hard as that is sometimes. You always remember the bad shots. I just need to forget the weeks when I have one bad round. My game is close. I just need to capitalize when I can.”
At the Byron Nelson, Gribble had plenty of hometown support as he played in front of large galleries at the TPC Four Seasons course during each of the first two rounds — in part because he was grouped with the world’s top-ranked player, Dustin Johnson, and with former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Gribble wasn’t able to recover after a disastrous start that included three straight bogeys to start the tournament. He followed up his opening round of 6-over par 76 by carding a 68 the next day, but the damage already was done.
“There’s a lot of expectations. Needless to say, it’s pretty disappointing,” said Gribble, who made the cut in his only previous Nelson appearance in 2015. “Everyone that grew up in Dallas, their childhood dream is to play in the Byron Nelson and win it. I had a lot of great people who came out, so it was a stinger to not be playing on the weekend. Hopefully I’ll be ready next year.”
Gribble has spent the past few years paying his dues on lower-profile tours before earning his PGA Tour card last fall. He scored a top-10 finish in the season-opening tournament in California before breaking through two weeks later with a four-shot win in Mississippi.
Although he was part of a national championship team alongside Jordan Spieth at the University of Texas, Gribble hadn’t won an individual title in high school or college, or as a professional. So the triumph provided a huge confidence boost to the left-hander that the wait for his second victory won’t be nearly as long.
“I hadn’t won as a professional, so that was a big monkey off my back. I know that I can win out here,” said Gribble, who leads the tour this season in putting percentage from outside of 25 feet. “It was a great start to my rookie year. I’ve been working hard. I just need to trust what I’ve been doing and be patient.”