Big names yield McGirt?
With the top 5 in the world in attendance for Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, two very surprising names ended up in a playoff for the win, 102nd-ranked William McGirt and 193rd-ranked Jon Curran. The two finished at -15 (just 1 shot ahead of superstar Dustin Johnson) playing off for a $1.5 million check, a 3-year exemption on the PGA Tour and entrance to the majors of golf. After each parred the 1st playoff hole, McGirt was able to get up and down on the second hole for a par and his first PGA Tour title.
The 36-year-old pro has been on the PGA Tour since 2011 and recorded 3 runner-up finishes before yesterday’s triumph at the Memorial Tournament. McGirt chose a golf scholarship to Wofford College over a few baseball offers. In 2003, after a successful college career and a couple of high-profile amateur wins, McGirt turned pro, bouncing around the mini-tour circuit for years before earning his way onto the Nationwide Tour for the 2010 season. Following his first season there, McGirt managed a t2nd finish at the PGA Tour Q-School to earn his card, which he hasn’t let go of. Prior to Sunday’s $1.5 million winner’s check, McGirt’s last professional win came in 2007 on the eGolf Tour, where he claimed a winner’s check of $16,000… my how the times have changed.
The up and down
It was our 2nd opportunity to see Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy compete in the same field since April’s Masters. While none of the stars walked away with the crystal, here’s what we thought of their play.
Up - Rory McIlroy
Rory was the best of the bunch, finishing in a tie for 4th 2 shots behind McGirt and Curran. He switched back to a conventional grip (after winning the Irish Open cross-handed) and ended up ranking 3rd in strokes gained: putting. If Rory’s hot putting continues, we could see him lifting a lot of crystal and reclaiming the top spot in the world rankings.
Up - Dustin Johnson
Another Sunday in contention for DJ, another cold putter. The long-hitting star didn’t make a putt outside of 3’ until the 18th hole, where he drained a 5’ birdie putt. While Dusty didn’t win, his power and all around ball-striking are looking good for Oakmont, a place where everyone (not just DJ) will struggle on the greens.
Up - Jason Day
While his t27th finish is pedestrian for Day’s standards, he flashed his explosiveness shooting rounds of 66 & 68. This had Day in contention heading into Sunday, but a mistake-filled Sunday dropped the world’s number 1 back to a t-27. Heading into the U.S. Open, Day has to be considered the favorite to win the season’s 2nd major.
Down - Jordan Spieth
Spieth came into the Memorial fresh off his first win in the state of Texas and playing his third consecutive event. Possibly due to fatigue, this week was a struggle with the star’s spotty ball-striking losing strokes to the field from tee to green on 3 out of 4 days. This week’s performance doesn’t worry us as Spieth heads into the U.S. Open since his last 5 major championship performances finished in t2nd, 2nd, t4th, 1st and 1st. He will be ready to play.
Down - Rickie Fowler
Since Fowler failed to close out the Wells Fargo after holding the 54-hole lead, he has missed the cut at the Players and this week’s Memorial. This week, Fowler’s usually steady putter was the problem, with the star losing nearly 4 shots to the field on the greens. Hopefully, Fowler can clean things up before Oakmont, but we don’t have him high on our list of favorites.
Down - Bubba Watson
Bubba hasn’t played much golf since the Masters and when he has played, it’s been mediocre. Watson has made a career of tearing up tracks that suit his eye and his game, and we don’t see Oakmont being one of those.
Down - Graham DeLaet
The Canadian star’s beard is on the up, but a case of the chipping yips and anxiety forced DeLaet to WD from the Memorial. Need we say more.
Sweetens Cove: Unforgettable
The fried egg was in Tennessee a couple weeks ago and got the opportunity to play Sweetens Cove, just outside of Chattanooga. Take a look at our full review of the best 9 holes of golf we have ever played here.
A young star
Often lost in the discussion of the game’s best young players is England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who turned pro at the ripe age of 19. The former U.S. Amateur champion is now 21 and notched his 2nd career victory over the weekend at the European Tour’s Nordea Masters. Fitzpatrick entered Sunday’s final round with a commanding 5-shot advantage, shooting a stress-free Sunday 71 to finish 3 shots ahead of Lasse Jensen and 4 shots ahead of former Ryder Cupper Nicolas Colsaerts. Speaking of the Ryder Cup, with the win, Fitzpatrick has virtually assured himself a spot on this year’s team.
In case you missed it:
On Wednesday night, the NCAA Golf Championship produced primetime drama with Texas and Oregon going toe-to-toe for the team championship. With star player Beau Hossler sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Texas was forced to concede Hossler’s match and start in a 1-0 hole. Texas was able to pull the match to an even 2-2 with one match left on the course, Oregon’s Sulman Raza vs. Texas’ Taylor Funk. Each delivered clutch shots down the stretch before finally, on the 3rd playoff hole, Raza was able to break the tie, throwing a dart of a wedge shot to 4’ and rolling in the birdie to beat Funk and earn Oregon their first ever National Championship in golf. It was only the 5th time a host school has won the title and only the 2nd time that the host school has swept both the individual and team championships.
While nothing should be taken away from the Ducks and their great victory on Wednesday, this year’s NCAA Championships shed light on two rules that we don’t agree with.
First, Texas wasn’t allowed to substitute a player for the injured Beau Hossler in the championship match, forcing them to forfeit his match and start in a 0-1 hole. This needs to change.
Second, Oregon won this event playing on their home course. While over the course of history, few schools have won the national championship on their home track (5), it shouldn’t even be an option. Playing on the course you play 6 times a week is a tremendous advantage over the field. Moving forward, the NCAA should adopt the same rule it has in its basketball championship where the host school picks a stadium that is close in proximity but not their actual home court.
Big PGA Tour News!
Wednesday, the tour made 2 big announcements.
The first is the expansion of the strokes gained statistic. Now fans will get to see exactly where PGA Tour members gain their strokes from tee-to-green with the addition of the strokes gained: off-the-tee, approach-to-green and around-the-green statistics. PGATour.com has already compiled the stats for the past 6 years. Click Here to see the top performers for each.
The other big announcement that came out on Wednesday is that the PGA Tour is cutting ties with longstanding host Doral. Starting next year, the WGC event that has been held at Trump’s Doral will be moved to Mexico City. PGA Tour Commish Tim Finchem denied that the move was because of the presidential candidate. The irony of Trump’s event getting moved to Mexico has gotta make you chuckle.
Bozzelli wins at the Web.com’s Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.
Back-to-back Nordquist defends her Shoprite LPGA Championship.
Looks like Bandon Dunes will add a 6th course.
“Mess with Rickie, you get Bubba.”
With a new bagman, DeChambeau makes the cut.
More than just a social media star, Spiranac wins first pro tournament.