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The Memorial Tournament. Its Kooch by Two

Matt Kuchar, Kooch to his friends and fans leads the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Course, in Ohio.

Deja vu

Happy Matt Kuchar / Getty

Matt managed to survive a  nasty combination of swirling wind and fast greens at Muirfield Village for a -2 under par 70, giving him a two-shot lead at -8 under par for the tournament over Kevin Chappell and Kyle Stanley, heading into the final round on Sunday.

Matt admitted it was like a survival course;

“It was a bit of survival, I was fortunate to make a handful of birdies. I think anytime you make a birdie in these conditions, you feel like you’re really up on the field here. Most of these holes, you’re looking at just getting out with a par.”

Kevin and Kyle are two shots back at -6 under par, Kevin with a great round of -4 under par 68, while Kyle struggled to +1 over par 73.

There are three players at -5 under par, including Bill Hass, the first round leader who could only manage a +4 over par round today. Joining him on that -5 under par score are Justin Rose and Matt Jones.

The next group of players are all at -4 under par, J.J. Henry also had a -4 under par round 68, Adam Scott was -3 under, Scott Piercy had a -1 under round while Charl Schwartzel collapsed with a +4 over par round.

Missing the cut are; Sang-Moon Bae, Geoff Ogilvy, Branden Grace, Brandt Snedeker, Guan Tianlang (a), Dustin Johnson, and Vijay Singh. Quite a high-profile list.

Tiger Woods +8 over and Rory McIlroy +6 over par, the world’s number one and two were lucky to make the cut.

Tiger reported after his poor round;

“The conditions were tough and when I missed it cost me. I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all, it just went the wrong way.”

The Memorial Tournament, Hass Has the Lead. Play Suspended.

Bill Haas has a three shot lead at the suspension of play in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Course. The second round was briefly suspended for 22 minutes early during the second round, due to the threat of a thunderstorm, and then again later, delayed for nearly an hour and a half for rain before the horn sounded for a third time to halt play for good. Not even the great Jack Nicklaus can control the weather.

Having a blast

Bill Haas, makes light work of the sand trap/ PGA Tour

Bill shot a second round of -5 under par 67 to top the leader board on -9 under par at the suspension of play on the second day. Many think that the inspiration has come from his new-born son Bill Jnr. Plus because he is away from home he is getting a good nights sleep;

” She certainly is toughing it out through the nights by herself, if anything else, it makes me that much more excited to get home. I had a great two weeks off, I had a son, I’ve been having great fun with that at home with my wife. And I think I’m just in a better frame of mind than I was three weeks ago after missing my second cut in a row. I don’t know if I give that credit or just the break was nice. And I love being under the radar, that’s fine with me. Let your clubs do the talking and hopefully at the end of the week I’m happy to surprise anyone. Even though I’ve never really had great success here personally, I love coming back, look forward to it every year, and part of it might be I’ve always known how much my dad liked it and how well he did here. Hopefully I can continue on the weekend and get a better taste in my mouth on how to play it as opposed to just liking it. It’s hard to imagine, golf obviously runs in our family and he’ll definitely be around it, no matter what. But I certainly won’t push him into it. I hope I’m playing long enough that he can caddy for me.”

Bill caddied for his father Jay, at the Memorial. He was in college at the time, and he doesn’t remember where Jay finished, other than that he had a nice week. So did Bill, who earned some extra spending money by wearing a Memorial cap with his caddy bib.

 

 

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.

Jack Nicklaus, Host of the Memorial Tournament, presented by Nationwide Insurance.

Jack Nicklaus, is the host this week, for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, presented by Nationwide Insurance. These are some of his comments at the news conference.

He was initially asked if he would like to make a couple opening remarks. This is what Jack had to say about his great tournament and great golf course;

Well, opening remarks, opening remarks. Anything else?                                                                                                                                                       No, I think, first of all, welcome. Nice to have you all here again. Secondly, when they talk about the golf tournament, the golf tournament is; the golf course is good, as it always is. Paul Latshaw and his crew have done a good job, as usual. We all had an early spring, as you know, and we popped a little poa annua out there, but that’s; outside of having to look a little bit at it, it doesn’t affect anything as it relates to golf. But the golf is really good.”

“I think we’ve got an opportunity for the first time in a long time, and I think we’ll probably have for the next two days anyway, pretty fast conditions. Right, Paul? Which is one out of every 20 years we get fast conditions this time of year. But I think that’s good for the golf course. It’s good for the tournament. It’s good to see these guys play the golf course rather than in a soft fashion.”

“But there’s another reason why the golf course is fast. Paul has put, what, nine miles of drainage in it? About nine miles of drainage into the golf course over the last four years. Even when we have rain now the golf course drains very, very rapidly.”

“The 16th hole, which we did a year ago, has matured nicely. It plays well. The green obviously last year was a new green, so it’s probably a little firmer than what the others are now. It’ll still play quick because it was designed to have the green run away from you, so the guys will say maybe it doesn’t hold as well. Well, it does hold as well, it’s just my sight that gets in there, having the green designed away. But anyway; and then the driving range, which I don’t know whether you’ve seen it or not, but the driving range, if it isn’t state of the art now, I don’t think it’s ever going to get state of the art. It’s pretty good. They spent a lot of time on it last fall. We changed our east chipping green, took that out and put it over; put two greens over on the west side, and we took the tees all around. We reoriented the practice tee.”

“The biggest problem we worried about over time was; first of all, the thing that started us to do the driving range was the drainage. If you went out there, and when they did it, Paul has got a little book, I’m sure he’ll be happy to show it to you if you want to see it, of the balls he found out there, Ryder Cup matches, Solheim Cup matches. You wouldn’t believe what was buried out there under the soil where it was wet. Anyway, the drainage started it, and then we decided we wanted to make sure we contain the ball. Our driving range before was 286 yards straight ahead down from where the master tee was, so we moved it around to the left and now we’re 318 yards going up from that tee to the end, and we raised the east tee up high and put a barrier behind it for people walking in. Bubba may hit it over it, but he’s got to pop it pretty good. But anyway, it’s really nice, got some great target greens, some bunkers. It’s really nice.”

“We’re getting ready to do after; you’ve seen the hole over here at the outside of the players’ entrance. There’s a hole over there which is the start of a cart barn fitness center, and we’re changing; and then we start the week after the tournament, doing a total renovation of the clubhouse and the clubhouse will be ready for next year.”

“We’re doing a lot of different things here that we think are interesting. The hospitality has changed here. The hospitality has moved from, not moved, but we used to have the CBS compound between 10, 18 and 14, and that compound has been moved out over to the Country Club, and we ended up creating hospitality in that area over there.”

“It was kind of funny, I went down to Augusta this year, and I went over and saw how nice the Berkman’s Place thing they did behind No.5. I thought, that is really neat. They’ve really done a great job with that. What a great way to utilize an area and create some hospitality. I came back here and told our guys, Guys, we need to do something like that. They said, Jack, you approved it at the last board meeting. I said, What? Yeah, we went through it last board meeting. Before you knew about Augusta we approved it. I said, Aha, I knew we had good ideas here.” (Laughter.) “Anyway, we did that, and that’ll actually be a nice addition to it.”

“The field is excellent, as you know. We always have a good field. I guess that’s enough opening remarks.”

Sounds like the guys at Muirfield Village have been pretty busy, I am certain the tournament will benefit from all the up grades, looking forward to it.

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.

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