(Reuters) - Swede Jonas Blixt defends his title at this week’s Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia not knowing what to expect from his game after experiencing “a roller-coaster” campaign on the 2013-14 PGA Tour.
The 30-year-old from Nassjo who is now based in Florida has recorded only one top-10 in 16 starts this season but his best finish was certainly a memorable one, a tie for second at the Masters in April.
”A little bit of a roller-coaster this year,“ Blixt told reporters at The Greenbrier resort on Wednesday when asked about his form ahead of Thursday’s opening round. ”I had a few good weeks this year ... I kind of struggled last month a little bit.
”We’ve done a lot of good stuff, me and my coach. I feel like the putter and short game are really working lately. I‘m kind of close, but you should never make those statements because it comes back and bites you fairly quickly.
“I don’t feel like I‘m too far off. It wouldn’t surprise me if I play well this week, wouldn’t surprise me if I play well next week. But it’s a work in progress, I guess. Just trying to get back to where I was last year.”
Blixt has triumphed twice on the PGA Tour, his first coming at the 2012 Frys.com Open before he followed up with a two-shot victory at The Greenbrier last year when he took advantage of a final-round collapse by overnight leader Johnson Wagner.
”It was a crazy week last year,“ said Blixt, who clinched the title with a closing three-under-par 67 on the Old White Course. ”I played all right.
“I never thought I was really in contention until the 16th hole and then ended up with the ‘W’. I was just hanging around all week, and feel it kind of came back to me. I said, ‘Tip my cap and say thank you’.”
The Swede’s second victory on the PGA Tour gave him a timely jolt of confidence at the game’s highest level as he went on to tie for 26th at the British Open the following month before finishing fourth at the PGA Championship in August.
“The first step was to win a tournament, which I did in the fall (of 2012), and then I struggled quite a bit,” said Blixt.
“Then winning this tournament got me into a few other events, and higher level events like the British Open, all the majors and stuff like that. I felt like I took a big step both that way and confidence wise.”
Blixt is licking his lips in anticipation for next month’s British Open, which will be played at Hoylake in north-west England.
”Muirfield was a great place,“ he recalled of his Open championship debut last year. ”It was fantastic. I feel like that is the true golf.
”It’s hard when you’ve been over here (in the U.S.) for so long to get used to that mindset of going to links golf, get used to the wind and the shots that you play there.
“But Muirfield was great. I feel like the golf course is probably playing four shots easier in the morning compared to the afternoon. I played two good rounds and two terrible rounds. I hope I can have four good rounds this year.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue