Tiger wins Memorial @ Muirfield Village.

Hello, Jack

Tiger Woods & Jack Nicklaus  Halleran/Getty Images

Tiger Woods won the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village on Sunday. Tiger was one shot off the lead when he hit an 8-iron over the back right corner of the green at that par three, that played as the most difficult of the week. When he got to the ball, Woods found it nestled in a particularly scruffy lie in the rough. He was looking at a downhill pitch to a green that was registering 13 on the stimpmeter and a pond lurking ominously several paces behind the pin. Amazingly the ball dropped in for a birdie that paved the way to Woods’ fifth title at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. Tigers winning tournament score was -9 under par.

Jack Nicklaus watched the shot from greenside, and said;

“If he’s short, he loses the tournament. If he’s long, he’s in the water. So he takes a full swing and lands it exactly where he has to land it and it trickled into the hole like a little 2-foot putt.  I have seen a lot of shots in golf but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better one.”

Tiger simply said;

“I went for it. I pulled it off, and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise because it was baked out and it was also downhill running away from me. It just fell in. I didn’t think it was going to get there at one point. Kind of like 16 at Augusta (in 2005), I thought I was going to leave it short somehow, and then it fell in. I’m sure by Tuesday I’ll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the U.S. Open, it might be something different. But I’ll let you guys figure that out. I’ll just keep going, keep working on it. This is a process, and just trying to get better. I have a big event in two weeks, and we go back to work next week to get ready.”

 Tiger’s playing partner Rickie Fowler said in interview afterward of Tiger’s shot;

“You hit a good shot to get it inside 10 feet, and it came out perfect, landed kind of right on the crown of that ridge there, and the rest is history.  He loves, obviously, loves, being in the moment, and that’s where he kind of gets down, focuses and hits those shots. It was fun to see. He looked very comfortable and hit a lot of good shots, and like I said, the times where he’s in the moment and in the heat of contention is where he really shines.”

Tournament leader at the start of play, Spencer Levin, sadly finished four shots off the lead, registering another failure for him to go on and win from a promising position.

World number one Luke Donald finished his last round with a -4 under par 68, for tournament total of -1 under par. Luke somehow has to figure out how to be contention from day one.

Memorial Tournament @ Muirfield Village, Spencer Levin hangs on to lead.

Hanging on in Ohio

Spencer Levin Lyons/Getty Images

Spencer Levin hangs on to lead the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village by just one stroke from Rory Sabbatini in the third round on Saturday. He will have on his mind last February at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, when Spencer took a six-stroke lead into the final round only to shoot 75 and finish third. This time, though, he only leads Rory Sabbatini by one stroke at 8 under par and for sure will be looking over his shoulder at the chasing pack of players.

Spencer spoke of his round today;

“I don’t know if I could have done much better. I had some really good breaks, so I’ll take it.  I played pretty solid, but it’s nice to have a couple good breaks. But if you’re going to shoot the low round of the day out here on the TOUR, or any day, you’re going to have a couple good breaks or make long putts or chip in generally.”

 Rickie Fowler, who has finished fifth or better in his last three starts, is three strokes back at 5 under par for the tournament after matching Levin’s 69, and is still a threat in this tournament.

 Tiger Woods, the four-time Memorial champion ran into some trouble on the back nine Saturday, making four bogeys on the way to a 73, but is still in the background  at 4 under, and obviously can not be ignored by anyone. Tiger said;

“I certainly probably shot the highest score I could have shot today considering the way I hit it. But I’m only four back, and out here with the conditions, supposed to be like this tomorrow again, anything can happen.”

Nothing much has happened for Luke Donald in this competition, his performance has been pretty average for the world’s number one player. Luke struggled to +3 over par third round and +3  for his tournament total, that is eleven shots off the pace. Justin Rose is fairing only slightly better at even par for his tournament.

Memorial Tournament @ Muirfield Village, presented by Nationwide Insurance

                                   

Scott Stallings leads by one shot after the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, presented by Nationwide Insurance. Scott had a -6 under par round of 66 to lead by one stroke from Spencer Levin and Erik Compton, who both had -5 under par rounds of 67. Scott was pretty happy with his day;

” It was a great start. You know, I definitely haven’t played very good up to this point. It’s been a very; lackluster would be an understatement, start to the season. I stayed positive all throughout being injured and stuff like that. I kept telling myself that it was only a matter of time before a round like this was coming around. It’s a golf course that I like. My caddie and I came in on Sunday, they gave us a golf cart, and played 27 holes and just kind of ran around the golf course. So I became more and more comfortable with it as the week went on.That’s about it.”

Finishing strong

Scott Stallings Halleran/Getty Images

Erik Compton was also happy with his first round;

” I worked really, really hard last week on the driving range, which I’m usually pretty picky about how hard I practice, and last week was really hot, and I was out there pounding balls. You know, I was just frustrated with how the year has been going. I tried to get my swing a little flatter and a little shallower, and I think it definitely saw some results the way I was driving the ball, hitting a lot of greens, a lot of crisp iron shots. And around here, these greens are really, really lightning fast, so you kind of have to be on the defensive. It’s hard to get the ball close, and when you do it seems like you have a downhill putt. I was just real happy to play well and get a good round under my belt, not only because it’s a PGA event but just to have a great round is encouraging. And then get up early in the morning, hopefully my body feels good, and get back at it.”

Spencer Levin was delighted to meet with the press guys once again;

” I haven’t talked to you guys in a while. I must not have been playing that good. But nice to be back in here again. Yeah, it was a good day. I just had some good things happen early in the round, some nice par saves, and I doubled 16, hit it in the water. But after that I kept my head together. I got up-and-down on 17, which kind of kept me going. And then from about 3 on, I started, I think I was one-putting pretty much every hole after that, so I was kind of hanging in there to be 1-under. Then I birdied 3 to go 2-under, and I made everything from there on in, which made it a 5-under round.”

Tiger Woods had a steady start at -2 under the card, the same score as Ernie Els and Adam Scott. World number one Luke Donald had another of his usual slow starts, finishing at -1 under par for his round, he was joined on that score by Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and the returning from injury boy Dustin Johnson. Tiger thinks the greens are running around 14 on the stimp meter.

” I think the golf course was playing quick today. The fairways were starting to chase a little bit. The greens were, as I was explaining out there, somewhat receptive. They’re making ball marks, but the thing is they’re running out. These greens have got to be near 14.       It’s a hell of a test out there, really. And then the wind is picking up a little bit. Hopefully we don’t get too much rain, and this golf course plays quick the entire week. “

Luke said of his slow start to the tournament;

” Well, hopefully that’s my loose round out of the way. I didn’t hit the ball well. I was scrambling a lot. But fortunately I putted pretty well, and I’m pretty happy with the score in the end. It wasn’t that solid of a round tee to green. I’m going to need to tidy that up. But at the same point, this course is tricky. There’s some tougher pins out there today, I thought, and overall I’ll take 1-under and try and play better the next three days.”

Saddest tale of the day was Phil Mickleson shooting a +7 over par round of 79, and then withdrawing from the tournament due to mental fatigue, Phil said about his withdrawal;

“The course here is in such great shape. It’s a beautiful way to get ready for the U.S. Open. But I’m hitting it so poorly that; I have to look at what’s best for me to play in the U.S. Open, and I’m going to take the next few days to kind of rest up.”

Bubba Watson had a tough return to golf after his self imposed lay-off, shooting a +3 over par round of 75. He will need to improve dramatically to make the cut tomorrow.

Memorial Tournament, Bubba Is back. Luke is also there.

Expert Picks: the Memorial

Luke Donald, Halleran/Getty Images

Luke Donald tee’s it up on the tenth at 0804 in the Nationwide Insurance, Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village as the reigning World Number One. On the tee with him will be the man he deposed of that title, Rory McIlroy. Rory has missed the cut in his previous two starts and will surely be out to prove to Luke, and the rest of the golfing world, that he is still a serious contender for the number one spot. To keep the two of them company over the first eighteen holes is American Keegan Bradely,  the reigning PGA champion.

Enjoying a late morning call will be Bubba Watson, 1305 off number one tee, he won the Masters ten days after becoming an adoptive father but is now back, playing for the first time since defending his title in New Orleans a month ago. He will play alongside Rickie Fowler, who picked up his breakthrough victory earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship. Rickie was also the runner-up at Muirfield Village in 2010. Third member of this group is Phil  Mickelson, a recent inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Phil has finished 20th or better six times, he is no slouch when it comes to this course.

Following Luke Donald on the tenth tee, at 0815 is Tiger Woods, a four-time Memorial champion, he won three straight Memorial titles after Fred Couples picked up his only victory at Muirfield Village in 1998., Fred Couples joins him on the tee. Making up the three ball will be Bill Haas, who won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year.

Steve Stricker, 1254 on the first tee, the defending Champion will partner the previous champion in Justin Rose, who currently leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai , and also has plenty of momentum after finishing second in England last week at the BMW PGA Championship, played on the West Course at Wentworth. Third in this group is Hunter Mahan, who proudly stands in second place  in the FedExCup. He is one of two players who have won twice  in 2012 after winning the World Golf Championships, Accenture Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open.

 Another player returning to golf action in this weeks Memorial Tournament is the big hitting Dustin Johnson, but returning from injury and seriously contending for a coveted title over four days is hard graft, but good luck to Dustin.