Catching Up With: Every battling life while trying to resurrect game

Matt Every is a former UF standout. [Associated Press]

By Garry Smits, GateHouse Florida

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Matt Every is both confident and lost at the same time.

The two-time PGA Tour winner and former University of Florida All-American has put together a few good tournaments, a combination of the Finals series and his first two starts on the PGA Tour’s fall schedule. He followed up a tie for 20th at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month with a tie for 15th on Nov. 18 in the RSM Classic at the Sea Island Club, the first time he has made consecutive cuts since last April.

Every shot 13-under and was in the 60s in all four rounds. He was 65-66 on the weekend and in his last five starts on two tours he’s broken 70 in 16 of 20 rounds, with a scoring average of 68.3.

For anyone who’s paid attention to his struggles of the past three years, that’s remarkable progress.

“I’m a good player,” he said. “My best is better than 99 percent of these guys.”

That’s the confident part, and for two weeks in 2014 and 2015, he was right. Every won back-to-back Arnold Palmer Invitationals at Bay Hill, a tournament that has elite fields year-in and year-out, and it appeared he was on his way to tussling weekly with the Tour’s best.

But since that second victory, and before the Sanderson Farms event, Every made only 32 of 93 cuts on the Tour and had one top-10 finish, at last season’s Houston Open. He earned only 513 FedEx Cup points during that span, just 13 more than he made the week he won his second Palmer Invitational.

“I’ve been kind of battling life,” Every said of his recent struggles. “My life has been a little bit of a mess the last few years. It’s just life. Part of growing up.”

Every would not elaborate. In 2016 he admitted he was seeing a therapist. He also filed for divorce that year from his wife Danielle after nearly seven years of marriage. The couple have two children.

A Daytona Beach native who now lives in Jacksonville Beach, Every has lost his exempt status on the PGA Tour and failed to crack the top-25 on the Finals money list (he was 32nd) to regain his Tour card. He now must return to the Tour next season, or rely on sponsor invitations on the PGA Tour.

Every got into the two PGA Tour fields this fall through a past champions exemption but that’s among the lowest categories for entry. He’s ranked 572nd in the world this week.

After winning his second title at Bay Hill, he was 40th with a bullet.

Every’s problems began in 2016 when he said he began “blacking out” over the ball. He get a yardage, pick a club, get into his stance and then forget where he was supposed to hit.

His second Bay Hill victory was followed by four made cuts in 16 starts. He made 10 of 17 in 2016, eight of 30 in 2017 and 10 of 30 last season. Eight of the missed cuts were withdrawals.

However, counting his three cuts in four Finals events, including a tie for ninth at Columbus, Ohio, Every has made five of his last six.

“I actually hit it real good this year,” Every said. “It’s getting better.”

Every claims he would have made the top-25 on the Finals and retained his Tour card but the last two courses, the Hillcrest Country Club in Boise, Idaho, and the Atlantic Beach Country Club near his home, were “too easy.”

“It didn’t matter how you hit it at those two courses,” he said. “It came down to putting.”

And last season, he was 175th on the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained Putting index, which measures performance at a given course based on the rest of the field.

Every said he’s trying to stay patient but said improving from tee-to-green is a challenge to his temperament.

“It’s easier to lose it when you’re hitting it good, because you’re expecting great things,” he said. “I get p—ed real easy. I like to punch and throw things and it’s just built up over time.”

At 34, Every is nowhere near finished. But he does have some work to get back to the Tour elite and it starts in January on the Tour.