Kuchar gets second win of season at Memorial

By Doug FergusonJune 2, 2013, 11:56 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Matt Kuchar was in a good spot Sunday at the Memorial. He had his first multiple-win season, and an audience with tournament host Jack Nicklaus.

Needing two putts from 20 feet to hold off a late charge from Kevin Chappell, Kuchar punctuated a remarkably steady final round by making the birdie putt for a 4-under 68 and a two-shot victory at Muirfield Village. He joined Tiger Woods as the only players with more than one win this year on the PGA Tour.

Kuchar, who goes to a career-best No. 4 in the world, won the Match Play Championship in late February.

Tiger Woods made another triple bogey – two shots from a bunker, three putts from 15 feet on the fringe – at the par-3 12th and had to rally for an even-par 72. Woods came into the Memorial having won three times in his last four starts, and left with the second-highest score of his career at 8-over 296.

The final round was a snoozer until the very end, when Chappell birdied three of his last four holes. His approach to the 18th settled within tap-in range for birdie, putting a little extra pressure on Kuchar. When the putt dropped, he flashed that easy smile and thrust his fist into the air as his 3-year-old son Carson gave Nicklaus a high-five.

Highlights: Kuchar gets Tour win No. 6 at Jack's place

Memorial Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

''This is such an amazing feeling. This never gets old,'' said Kuchar, who won for the sixth time in his career. ''To have Jack Nicklaus congratulate me is a real treat. This is as special as it gets.''

Chappell, who missed four birdie attempts inside 10 feet on the front nine, closed with a 4-under 68.

''He's world class with that putter, and I figured it was over with,'' Chappell said of Kuchar's final putt.

Kyle Stanley ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch to end the front nine and pull within one shot, but he fell back with a bogey on the par-5 11th and never caught up. Stanley fell out of a tie for second on the 17th hole, and it was costly. A runner-up finish would have put him inside the top 50 and allowed him to skip 36 holes of U.S. Open qualifying on Monday. He closed with a 71 and finished alone in third, which will move him to just inside the top 60.

The top 60 after next week are exempt to the U.S. Open.

''Mentally, I'm pretty drained right now,'' Stanley said. ''I would have shot a million this week if I didn't make putts. So I'm really happy about that.''

Kuchar finished at 12-under 276 and will be looked upon as one of the favorites in two weeks at the U.S. Open. He was runner-up last week at the Colonial.

Woods had little to cheer in what can only be written off as a most peculiar week. He was the defending champion and a five-time winner at Muirfield Village. He had won three of his last four tournaments – the exception was a tie for fourth at the Masters – and then he turned in some shocking scores. Woods had a 44 on the back nine Saturday, the worst nine-hole score of his pro career. He tied for 65th and was 20 shots behind, the largest deficit in a full-field event.

Woods was 30 shots behind at Firestone in 2010 at the depth of his most recent slump, and he was 20 shots behind in the 1996 Tour Championship at age 20. Both those tournaments have limited fields without a cut.

''It happens. It happens to us all,'' Woods said. ''Go home next week and practice.''

He attributed this week to his putting, and it was hard to argue. Woods is leading the tour in the key putting statistic, and he was 71st out of 73 players this week. He had a pair of three-putts from inside 5 feet.

Rory McIlroy closed with a 72 and finished 18 shots behind.

Kuchar was at his best off the tee. He didn't miss a fairway until the 17th hole, when he found a bunker to the right of the fairway. Chappell, coming off a 10-foot par save on the 16th hole, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th to get within two shots. Kuchar had to make a 5-foot par putt to keep the two-shot margin, and Chappell kept coming at him. He started walking after his approach to the 18th when he hit it.

''There at the end, it got scary,'' Kuchar said. ''He made a great run at the end.''

Kuchar never looks as though he is under much stress, and for so much of Sunday, he wasn't.

Starting the final round with a two-shot lead, he made a 15-foot birdie putt on the opening hole and was at least three shots clear until Stanley made birdies on the eighth and ninth holes to pull within one shot going to the back nine.

Stanley wasn't a threat for long, though.

Two holes later, Kuchar hit a nifty wedge to a tight pin for a short birdie on the par-5 11th, while Stanley ran into trouble off the tee, missed the green well to the right with his third shot and took bogey.

Chappell came to life with a birdie on the 13th hole, and he narrowly missed a 20-foot eagle putt on the 15th. Even so, Kuchar kept his distance all the way until he rolled in that last birdie putt that only counted toward the final margin.

Scott Stallings matched the low score of the final round with a 67 and tied for fourth with Bill Haas, who had a 71.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.