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Svensson looks for his breakthrough on tour

by Garrett Johnston

Adam Svensson is making an impact in his second full season on the PGA TOUR. As most pros find at this highest level, he’s already been tasting the ups and downs in the 2021-22 season. The 28-year-old from Surrey, B.C, who was named the PNGA Player of the Year in 2014, feels great about the state of his game this month.

With two recent top-10 finishes, Svensson is getting used to the big crowds and energy of playing in a PGA TOUR event, signing autographs at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I feel really good about my game right now, my wedge game has improved, I’m hitting the ball consistently and I’ve just got to keep grinding on the putter and I know I can definitely improve on that,” said Svensson, who ranks 192nd in Shots Gained: Putting on tour. “I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep my head down. I’ve worked extremely hard the last couple years, so it’s nice to see that the work is paying off now.”

It’s always great when hard work pays off. For Svensson, what specifically has been his focus?

“Just practicing longer, having more of a dedication towards my work,” he says. “My weeks off I have a schedule I follow now and I just stick to it and just one hundred percent focus on golf. I just want to improve on my putting. That’s one of the weaknesses of my game. You can always get better at putting, and that’s definitely something I need to keep working really hard on.”

Sounds like some pretty all-consuming dedication, but now in his second go on the PGA TOUR after a full season in 2018-19 where he didn’t earn enough to keep his card, this is a more resolute Svensson.

Is there a particular area of focus for his putting?

“Inside six feet is the key focus right now with my putting, and I’m really trying to focus on solid contact and starting on my line,” Svensson said. “I feel like if I can just make more putts inside of six feet, that would be huge. I’ve always hit the ball extremely well, but inside six feet I’m finding is really the golden ticket out here. Those are the crucial par saves and big birdies. So I really got to keep working on that.”

Svensson and his caddie Tim Tucker spend extra hours working on his putting, which he sees as the part of his game that needs the most improvement.

Though there will always be something to improve on in this game, especially at the PGA TOUR level, Svensson has still tasted some good success in the early 2022 portion of the season. He posted a seventh at the Sony Open in January and a tie for ninth at the Honda Classic in February. The Canadian has learned quite a bit from those experiences.

“At Pebble (for the AT&T) and a couple other times this year I put myself in a great spot. At Sony I did the same thing. I just feel like I put too much pressure on myself in those situations,” Svensson said. “A couple weeks ago at the Honda I just played very non-aggressive golf. I feel like I just get way too aggressive sometimes and I have to scale back.”

At Pebble Beach, he shot 8-under 63 in the second round and entered the weekend in the top 4. “I was feeling really good and I wish I would’ve just kept that mentality going instead of telling myself ‘Hey, I had a great round yesterday, let’s just make some pars today.’”

Svensson went on to shoot 77-73 on the weekend and fell to a tie for 49th.

“I just want to be more aggressive, but it’s all a learning experience and I feel that I’ve learned so much on tour. I’m more comfortable out here and I’m less nervous at times too, which is huge. I think being more comfortable is definitely one of the biggest things for me.”

The next time he was near the lead, a couple weeks later at Honda, Svensson felt different.

“Just being in the situation with people, cameras, and so many fans watching you play golf was helpful,” Svensson said. “On the Korn Ferry Tour it’s not the same.”

It’s the big leagues now, and he’s got another Pacific Northwest native, Tim Tucker of Coos Bay, Ore., on the bag. Tucker finished a long stint as caddie for Bryson DeChambeau. Tucker’s veteran knowledge – especially with putting – would figure to help.

“My agency kind of hooked me up with Tim and he actually did a two-week trial – he was going to retire and then we’ve just really worked well together,” Svensson said. “He really liked me and he’s been the best caddie I’ve ever had on the bag. He gives me a lot of info that I wouldn’t usually put into my game.”

What kind of info, specifically?

“Green reading for sure. He does the density of the greens. He’s really good with numbers. He’s gotten me really precise with my landing spots and how far that I carry the ball,” Svensson said. “We practice more now on carry numbers, not so much on how you’re hitting it, if you’re hitting it good. The key is to make sure you hit it to that number even if it’s a little left or right. Then mostly putting, he’s really helped me on the greens.”

There are so many aspects of his game that Svensson must keep sharp, but overall, life on tour is always a challenge with the constant travel and balancing of your time. Svensson has made big strides this year in that department as well.

“In the past I’ve been up for going out to dinners and stuff, but now I’m just kind of more focused on what I have to do,” he says. “I’m 28 now, and I’m not saying I’m old but I’m learning to focus more on the necessities. It’s nice to have my girlfriend out here sometimes. I’m really being diligent about my off time out here. I worked very hard to get here.”

Yes he did.

Garrett Johnston has covered golf for 10 years as a freelance writer. He also hosts the “Beyond the Clubhouse” podcast. Follow him at @JohnstonGarrett