How Matt Every went from worst at Honda Classic to first at Arnold Palmer Invitational in six days

March 6, 2020
Matt Every tee shot Arnold Palmer Invitational

To understand why Matt Every is leading the Arnold Palmer Invitational after one round, to understand why he’s won this tournament twice before, to understand why he’s in this position after last week’s debacle, a bit of a deep dive is required.

To the bottom of the lake on the fifth hole at PGA National, where four of Every’s Titleists are nestled in their final mucky, resting place.

Every walked to the tee last Friday at the Honda Classic pretty much guaranteed he wouldn’t be playing on the weekend, as a first-round 74 was followed by four bogeys and three double bogeys to start his second round. Still, he wasn’t going to settle for a safe score on the 202-yard par-3. He was still going to hit his shot.

Splash. Not giving up. Splash. Not giving up. Splash. Not giving up. Splash. Not giving up.

Fifth ball on. Two putts. An 11, the oh-so grisly octuple-bogey, en route to an atrocious 15-over 85 and a dead-last finish.

“I wasn’t leaving that tee until I hit the shot I wanted, and I flushed every one of them — like, exactly in the same spot in the water,” Every said. “And then finally I hit one that held it.”

If anything, Every is brutally resilient. And that also gave him a 65 on Thursday at Bay Hill — yes, a whopping 20 shots better than just six days ago — and a one-shot lead over world No. 1 Rory McIlroy heading into Friday.

“Well, my short-term memory isn’t very good, so that is a strength sometimes,” Every said. “And I just, I don’t know, I’ll be all right. I mean, either way it’s crazy how much this game can affect like your life — or not your life, but just the way you, maybe your mindset or whatever.

“But it’s going to be all right either way no matter what I shoot tomorrow. But I think I’m going to be all right this week. I’m hitting it really good. We’ll see. It’s only Thursday — it’s Thursday though, I know, and there’s a lot of golf left.”

Every’s resiliency has certainly been tested.

In 2014, he chased down then-defending Masters champion Adam Scott to win the Arnold Palmer, his first victory on the PGA Tour. A year later, he chased down 2016 British Open champ Henrik Stenson in the final round to defend his crown. Then not much.

Last week’s missed cut was his seventh in 11 events this PGA Tour season. Following one of those made cuts, he was suspended by the tour in October for a second time for a violation of its conduct policy on drugs of abuse; Every said it was for a legal prescription for cannabis to treat his anxiety.

“I think it would be cool if we were proactive about it and made some changes,” he said. “Anxiety is a real thing, and the way I treat it — like, I know I treat it the healthiest way possible for my body.”

Just about five months since he was suspended, Every is back in a familiar spot. And if anything, Every is brutally resilient.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that last round,” he said.

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