Move the Memorial

By Rex HoggardJune 6, 2010, 4:56 am
2007 The Memorial TournamentDUBLIN, Ohio – The line of storms stretched from Sandusky to Indianapolis, with sleepy Dublin fixed squarely in the crosshairs. It wasn’t a matter of if the deluge would arrive, it was a question of when?

Jack Nicklaus once joked that the logo for his Memorial Tournament should be an umbrella, although arch-rival Arnold Palmer may take umbrage with that idea. It’s early June and the world’s best are assembled at Muirfield Village which means it must be raining. The old Scottish adage if you can’t see Ailsa Craig from the Turnberry coast it’s going to rain, if you can see the towering rock it already is raining somehow seems apropos at the House That Jack Built.

So far this week there have been six separate weather delays totaling 9 hours of inactivity, and make no mistake the ongoing weather woes are the rule, not the exception, in these parts.
Memorial Tournament
A fan checks out the leaderboard during a soggy Day 3 at Muirfield Village. (Getty Images)
It’s not always like this in central Ohio, but the golf world can be forgiven for thinking it is. Rumor has it the place is idyllic in the fall, great news for the 2013 Presidents Cup, and we’ve been told the forecast improves dramatically as late spring turns to summer.

“Don’t like the weather, wait a couple weeks. It gets a lot better,” said John Cooper, the former Ohio State football coach who has waded through his share of spring practices.

With that we offer a humble suggestion, how does Labor Day work – although the not wearing white thing would unduly handicap front-running phenom Rickie Fowler? Come to think of it, any time after the summer solstice would be a good reason to leave the rain gear at home and play 72.

Any opening, really, that doesn’t require a constant supply of umbrellas and a standing “lift, clean and place” local rule.

The Memorial, of course, has been tied to Memorial Day since 1976, but times, and weather patterns, change. The U.S. Open was once played in August (1920) and July (1921) before making its home in June. Fellow legend Arnold Palmer’s invitational jumped around the Florida Swing for years before settling into the anchor spot.

In fact in 1989 the Memorial, which had historically been played on Memorial Day weekend, was moved two weeks earlier to avoid weather woes only to get rained on, so officials eventually went with the first week of June and we’ve seen how that’s worked out. Point is officials have colored outside the lines before; we’re just asking for a little more imagination.

Tradition is fine, but when the snapshot is swollen rivers and the echoes of weather warning horns maybe it’s time to heed Mother Nature’s call.

Imagine how much better things would be for everyone involved if the Ball-in-Hand Open packed up and moved to the drier confines of late summer, or early fall. The PGA Tour wants to ensure 100 percent participation at the first FedEx Cup playoff event, move it to Muirfield Village. No one, sans the weatherman, says no to Nicklaus.

Short of a date change, the next best option would be to dig the place up and move it to Southern California, away from the spring wash and, if you believe in hexed goats and curses, away from the vengeful wrath of Chief Leatherlips.

Every time the Memorial field is sent scurrying for one of Muirfield Village’s “safe houses” by an approaching storm the locals start popping off about the curse of Leatherlips, who, lore has it, was executed in 1810 by members of his own tribe not far from where Jack built his dream 18.

Leatherlips, it seems, has little interest in the hubbub of tournament week and has therefore cursed the soiree into one of the Tour’s soggiest stops.

Boston Red Sox fans know a thing or two about curses, but if the fix for the Memorial is an 86-year wait ... well, Nicklaus doesn’t have that kind of time.

Not sure what the Tour’s Policy Board would make of Leatherlips’ curse, but cascading sheets of water that made Muirfield Village’s putting green a real water hazard on Saturday speaks volumes.

Call it the Memorial, call it Christmas in August for all we care, but don’t call back until the radar is clear, or you find an umbrella big enough to cover 18 holes and 30,000 fans who deserve better than wash, rinse, repeat.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.