Memorial Rd. 2 conclusion: Haas on top, Rory made cut

By Associated PressJune 1, 2013, 2:03 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Charl Schwartzel made the most of an early start to move within a shot of leader Bill Haas early Saturday morning during the completion of the rain-delayed second round of The Memorial Tournament.

Rory McIlroy needed to rally to get up and down from 45 yards just to make the cut.

Play was suspended for the third time on Friday night with 42 players still on the course. Haas, who followed an opening 68 with a 67 before the heavy weather came in, was safe and secure in his hotel with a three-shot lead overnight.

First-round leader Schwartzel began play on the 16th hole Saturday with a par, then birdied the final two holes to put the finishing touches on a 71 that left him at 136.

''I thought if I could somehow get one back and get my round back to even, I'd be very happy,'' he said. ''I managed to make two (birdies), coming up 17 and 18. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.''

Kyle Stanley played his final four holes on Saturday morning and was another shot back at 137. Next came Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson at 138. Watson had to complete a 67. Robert Karlsson (71), Scott Stallings (70) and former Memorial winner Justin Rose (70) shared sixth place at 140, five shots behind Haas.

McIlroy had opened with a 78 and knew he needed to go low just to stick around for the weekend. He was 4 under for his round through 14 holes when the third suspension of play finally brought the players in on Friday night. When he returned in the morning he birdied the 15th, but then had bogeys at 16 and 17.

Needing a par to make the cut, he hit his drive on the closing par-4 into a deep trap, then spun his approach shot off the false front and it ended up 45 yards short and below the green. But he chipped to 4 feet and made the putt to salvage par.

He slammed his club into his bag as he was leaving the green.

''Bogeying 16 and 17 wasn't really the plan. And obviously having to make one up and down at the last,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm happy to be in on the weekend with a couple of rounds to work on things. But I need to commit more to my shots and not guide the ball as much, I guess – just let it go.''

One player who didn't have to worry about returning to the course was five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods. He never could get anything going and surprisingly had problems on the par 5s, shooting a 74 to stand at 1-over 145.

''Tough conditions out there and I didn't exactly play my best either,'' said Woods, who had to battle gusting winds but still is only even on the par-5 holes over 36 holes. ''It's not that hard to make bogeys and doubles on this golf course. You miss the ball in the wrong spot, get the wrong gust, it's tough.''

Haas, playing in just the fourth group off the tee on Friday, took advantage of conditions without a lot of wind and with little or no precipitation. He opened with three pars and then went birdie, eagle, birdie. He would have had an even bigger lead but he needed three to get down from over the green on his last hole.

The tournament, the course, and the legend behind both – Jack Nicklaus – have meant a lot to the Haas family, especially Bill.

''I caddied here for my dad when I was in college and loved it,'' he said. ''Mr. Nicklaus gave me a sponsor exemption when I first turned pro to play in this event. It's something I'll never forget. It meant a lot to me.''

Back in the days when Haas caddied for his dad, who now plays on the Champions Tour, he always brought home a memento.

''I used to always get a T-shirt here every year I came,'' said Haas, who is at 9-under 135 after rounds of 68 and 67. ''I do have tons of Muirfield Village T-shirts. They have the softest T-shirts.''

Now, as is often the case, the course will also have soft greens. Heavy rains resulted in a round being interrupted for the 40th time in the tournament's 38 years – more than one of every four rounds played.

Play was suspended for 22 minutes earlier on Friday, then for 1 hour and 27 minutes later. A major storm front then hit the area, stopping play early in the evening.

Kuchar's 70 featured four birdies and included two bogeys, one on his final hole also.

He said the conditions made everything a trial – and he avoided the biggest storms.

''This course is hard without wind. It's difficult and challenging on a normal day,'' he said. ''Putting is challenging. These greens are similar to Augusta National. You throw in 20-plus mile-an-hour winds and it becomes really difficult.''

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese eighth-grader, shot 79 on Friday after an opening 72 and missed the cut.

Third-round play began under threatening skies soon after the completion of the second round.

Getting through the third round might be difficult as well. A line of storms is expected Saturday afternoon and into Sunday morning.

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.