SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Victory celebrations aren’t always as delightful and fun as you might think.
Scott Stallings pulled away from a posse of contenders with a final-hole birdie to win last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. His ensuing hours were memorable but not what he had in mind.
Stallings and his wife and son drove Sunday night from San Diego back to Scottsdale, where they’re renting a home for the winter, after he finished all the post-round interviews and ceremonies.
“About an hour into the road trip, my son started getting sick, which made for an adventurous six-hour drive,” Stallings said Wednesday morning. “Upon arriving in Scottsdale, my wife started getting sick about midnight. I stayed up with here all evening. I gave her a hard time. I said, I’m putting in for husband and father of the year.”
You can probably guess what happened next. Stallings, scheduled to play in the Monday pro-at at the TPC Scottsdale, came down with the bug, too.
“I got the tail end of it Monday afternoon and Monday evening,” Stallings said. “If you asked me yesterday, I’d say there is no way I’m playing in the tournament this week.”
Stallings visited his local Mayo Clinic, got some intravenous fluids and felt much better Wednesday morning. “So it’s been an eventful but uneventful celebration, I guess,” he joked.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Stallings is sneaking up on becoming one of the Tour’s better players. Torrey Pines was his third win. He already had slightly lower-profile wins at Greenbrier in 2011 and the True South Classic in 2012. That’s three wins by age 28.
He feels even better about his game now after some dramatic swing changes over the winter. He wasn’t happy with his swing last fall and after the BMW Championship at Conway Farms, he and coach Brad Rose agreed it was time to change.
“I was sick of it and I said, I will do whatever it takes not to play like this anymore,” Stallings said. “We went from a swing that involved hanging back and flipping and a lot of timing. When it was good, it was awesome but when it was bad, it was awful.
“I’m not saying we’ve got it all figured out but now we have a swing that my body can reproduce. So I played the whole fall, knowing I needed to play tournaments to see how it would hold up. I didn’t necessarily think it would happen this fast but I knew I was working the right way.”
This week, he’s looking forward to a home game. He’s renting a place in Grayhawk, only five minutes from the TPC. He’s been paying and practicing at the TPC and also at Whisper Rock, a posh private club that boasts a number of PGA Tour players as members.
“We’re making a winter home out here,” Stallings said. “With the vile weather that’s been in the South, I don’t miss that at all. We miss our families but I don’t miss that weather. If you’re doing what I do for a living, you can only get better out here.”
The only thing that could be better for Stallings this week would be the celebration.