While many players at this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open are just getting their new season off the ground, Peter Uihlein is already in mid-season form.
Just five weeks into the new wraparound schedule, Uihlein is already making his fourth start this week in Las Vegas. While he racked up plenty of frequent flier miles traveling Asia, the results were lacking: a missed cut in Napa was followed by T-69 and T-55 finishes among limited fields with no cut in Malaysia and Korea.
The slow start led Uihlein to do some self-evaluation at a time when many big names are still soaking up what few remnants of the off-season remain.
“I was really bad the first few tournaments this year, at least starting off. Got really lazy and complacent,” Uihlein told reporters. “Wasn’t mentally sharp enough for what I needed to be able to compete out there.”
Full-field scores from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Articles, photos and videos
Uihlein identified the sluggish start as a consequence of taking a couple weeks completely off after he was eliminated from the playoffs at the BMW Championship. But those issues were nowhere to be found during his opener at TPC Summerlin, where Uihlein fired an 8-under 63 that gave him an early two-shot lead.
Using a new mallet putter for the first time in competition, Uihlein made nine birdies including five in a six-hole stretch on his second nine. He now headlines a leaderboard that also includes Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau three shots off the pace.
“There are 24 hours in a day. I tried to utilize as much as possible, really,” Uihlein said. “I tried to put my head down and get back to work. And like I said earlier about mental approach as well, I needed to adjust that a little bit and get back to being a lot sharper.”
Uihlein won the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay, but he remains in search of his first victory on the PGA Tour. Las Vegas has been the site of recent maiden wins for Kevin Na (2011) Smylie Kaufman (2015) and Patrick Cantlay (2017), and Uihlein hopes to add his name to that list despite his slow start to the new season.
“I put in a lot of work last week for a few days and switched putters, so it’s nice to kind of see that hard work kind of pay off this quickly,” he said. “Wasn’t really expecting it.”