Another Lefty Leads Memorial

By Associated PressJune 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Steve Flesch was one of the few players who had no issues with the bunkers at the Memorial, and for good reason. He wasn't in any of them Thursday, which might explain why he was atop the leaderboard.
 
Flesch made sure he kept his ball in the lush grass of Muirfield Village, playing his best golf of the year to reach 6 under par through 17 holes when the first round was suspended because of storms in the area. He was in the 18th fairway, typical of his day.
 
Jason Dufner in action during the third round of the Nationwide Tour 2006 LaSalle Bank Open at The Glen Club in Glenview, Illinois on June 10, 2006.Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage.com
Phil Mickelson shot 3-under 69 in the opening round.
Sean O'Hair made double bogey from a bunker on No. 3, then responded with four birdies on his next six holes. He saved par the next time he was in the sand, birdied the 18th and finished one of his best rounds this year with a 5-under 67.
 
The large group at 69 included Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Fred Couples and Nick Price, most of whom had one thing in common -- they could do without the furrows left behind by the gap-tooth rakes being used as an experiment this week.
 
'I don't like it at all,' Price said. 'It's a bit of pot luck, to be honest. You can get in there and have a perfect lie when it lands on top of a groove, then you can have another one that goes in the trough, and you've got no chance.'
 
Love didn't bother stopping to talk, perhaps because he would have said something that offended tournament host Jack Nicklaus. Mickelson, the most pragmatic of the bunch, was tied for the lead until hitting into a fairway bunker led to bogey on the 17th, and he failed to get up-and-down from short of the 18th for another bogey.
 
'Everybody has to play it,' Mickelson said. 'These bunkers are just a different variety than we're used to.'
 
Nicklaus is not playing the Memorial for the first time in its 31-year history. Tiger Woods, who has not played since the Masters, missed the Memorial for the first time since he turned pro. All that was forgotten when the first round got under way and the attention turned to the great debate over bunkers.
 
Does it require more skill to play a sand shot when the ball is nestled between the ridges? Does it negate the advantage of good bunker players who now rely more on luck?
 
It was a different test, for sure, although the end of the round was all too familiar in a tournament where rain delays are the norm. Thirty players failed to finish their round, and they were to return at 8:30 a.m.
 
All that mattered to Flesch was hitting the ball clean, which he did.
 
'I kept the ball in the fairway, and I was good with my irons,' he said. 'I made seven birdies, birdied all the par 5s. This is probably the best I've played in a year.'
 
But just because he kept sand out of his shoes didn't mean he was gloating.
 
'It was frustrating just to watch the other guys get out of them,' Flesch said. 'You about have to play bunkers as a water hazard.'
 
As expected, players complained as though someone took away their courtesy cars.
 
PGA TOUR rules official Slugger White said the only mistake might have been failing to alerting the players ahead of time. And he stressed this was only a test, not a policy.
 
'Everyone is a little bit stubborn when it comes to change,' he said. 'We'll see how this plays out.'
 
Love was poised to be among the leaders when he stood on the 18th tee at 5 under par. His tee shot went into the fairway bunker, however, and his next shot sailed some 20 yards to the right of the green in deep rough. He chopped it out some 60 feet beyond the hole and three-putted for a double bogey.
 
Mickelson showed far more energy than the last time he returned from a break.
 
Lefty took two weeks off after winning the Masters, but never got into contention at either New Orleans or the Wachovia Championship when he decided to take three weeks off. After spending the weekend at Winged Foot to get ready for the U.S. Open, he immediately got into the mix at the Memorial.
 
He also got some luck.
 
Mickelson was going for the middle of the par-5 fifth green with a 4-wood, pushed it slightly and watched with relief as it narrowly cleared the water and settled 6 feet from the cup for an eagle. On the par-5 seventh, he was buried in deep rough and trying only to carry it over the front bunker. It came out perfectly and set up a short birdie.
 
Only the final two holes marred his start, but he had few complaints.
 
'I'll gladly take it,' Mickelson said. 'I know there's a low round out there, with the greens being receptive. But there's three other days to get that.'
 
Defending champion Bart Bryant had a 70, and Colonial champion Tim Herron had to settle for the same score. Lumpy showed it wasn't only the bunkers that can cause problems at Muirfield Village, especially with some of the precarious pin placements. His approach on the 18th landed close to the hole, then spun off the green and into the fairway. His chip rolled back toward his feet, and he escaped with bogey by making an 8-foot putt.
 
The group at 71 included David Duval, who had six birdies and saw a good round slip away when a potential eagle turned into a shocking double bogey with five putts from 25 feet.
 
Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen each shot 74, while Jim Furyk had a 73.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

    Getty Images

    Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

    By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

    The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

    There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


    Playing with the pros

    Tiger, DJ and Faxon

    Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


    President at the Presidents Cup


    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


    Cart on the green


    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


    Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


    Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


    Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


    Trump golf properties

    Vandalism

    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

    Finances


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers


    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

    Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm