Baby boy and new putting approach for Troy Kelly

Troy Kelly got his new year off to quite a start. He and his wife, Jen, celebrated the birth of a baby boy — Mason Michael Kelly — earlier this month.

That’s why Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad and former Washington Husky golfer, didn’t play in the season-opening Sony Open in Honolulu.

But armed with a new putter and physically fit after he and his brother and caddie, Ryan Kelly, put themselves through a grueling fitness program, are ready for the 2013 PGA Tour season.

It starts this week in Kelly’s adopted hometown of La Quinta, Calif. Twenty-eight months removed from hip replacement surgery, he’s entered in the Humana Challenge, which will be the first of four straight tournaments.  It used to be a five-day tournament, but it’s a 72-hole event now. Starts Thursday and winds up Sunday (noon-4 p.m. daily on the Golf Channel). The tournament is co-sponsored by the William J. Clinton Foundation. The Palmer Private course at PGA West is the host course, but the Nicklaus Private course and La Quinta Country Club are also used during the first three rounds. Kelly tees off at 10:20 a.m. on No. 10 at the Palmer course on Thursday.

From there, he goes to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open, Phoenix for the Waste Management Open, and Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. After a week off,  he finishes the west coast swing at the Northern Trust Open outside of Los Angeles.

Unless he plays himself into some of the big invitationals — the Masters, The Players Championship, U.S. Open etc. — the No. 251 player in the world is looking at playing in about 22  or 23 tournaments. Of course, that could all change if you have some major success early and lock up another tour exemption. As he found out a year ago, all it takes, sometimes, is one good finish.

Kelly, 34, made 12 of 23 cuts in 2012 an finished 119th on the money list with $786,832. The top 125 secured their cards. His only top-10 finish, a second at the Greenbrier Classic in early July, saved is season. That tournament paid $658,800 and got him a spot in the British Open. Here’s a column I wrote that memorable day from Kelly’s 19th Hole, and here’s Kelly’s reaction to his best finish.

His second biggest payday was the $18,000 he won at The Barclays, where he tied for 54th. Here’s a look at Troy’s 2012 season, tournament by tournament.

Kelly also tied for 54th in the Humana a year ago despite some atrocious putting.

So another year begins. A new baby boy to go with his stepdaughter, a new putter, a new clothes contract with Cutter & Buck. He’s also got deals with and Cushman & Wakefield real estate.

He’s still represented by Gaylord Sports Management and is under contract with Cleveland Golf.

Here’s what’s in Kelly’s bag:

Driver: Classic 290, 10.5 degrees, Miyazaki Kusala Silver 61X

Irons: 588 TT irons

Wedges: 588 wedges Forged, 50, 56, and 60 degrees, Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: Taylor Made

Balls: Titleist Pro Vix (2009)

Also: Kelly’s dad, Bob Kelly, says Troy, one of the longest hitters on tour, also has a couple of Adams hybrids in his bag.

The Kelly brothers have been working with PGA pro Mike Shy, one of the founders of Vector Putting. It’s a scientific approach to reading greens and predicting the break on putts.

Did you know?: Russell Henley, the PGA Tour rookie who won the Sony Open on Sunday, is the guy Kelly finished second to in the Stadion Classic, a Nationwide Tour (now event in 2o10 in Georgia. Kelly won the $99,000 first-place check, his biggest payday until the Greenbrier, because Henley was an amateur.


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