DUBLIN, Ohio – After struggling to find his footing early in the 2013 season, Kyle Stanley continued a recent run of good form with a solo third-place finish Sunday at The Memorial Tournament, his third top-10 finish in his last five starts.
“I like where my game is at. I’m working hard,” said Stanley, who finished five shots behind Matt Kuchar after a 1-under 71 in the final round at Muirfield Village. “I’ve been playing better and I’m happy about that.”
Following his maiden win at last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Stanley failed to post another top-10 finish in 23 subsequent starts during his 2012 season. After also starting his 2013 campaign with mediocre results, the former Clemson standout is now pleased to be able to reap some benefits from his practice efforts.
“I’ve been working really hard, especially on my putting. I would have shot a million this week if I didn’t make putts,” noted Stanley, who took 28 putts during the final round. “I’m just really excited about golf again.”
Having just completed his sixth event in the last seven weeks, Stanley admitted to being “mentally drained” after Sunday’s round.
“Being in contention, there wasn’t a lot of time to really relax out there,” explained Stanley, whose string of high finishes began with a third-place result at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and also included a tie for sixth at the Wells Fargo Championship. “You just had to be in the zone for quite some time.”
Despite the mental fatigue, Stanley faces a quick turnaround. He is one of 120 golfers entered in Monday’s 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Columbus – though Sunday’s result went a long way toward securing him a spot at Merion. Having entered the week ranked 90th in the world, Stanley is projected to be around No. 60 when the new rankings are released Monday. The top 60 in the world rankings on June 10 receive an exemption into the season’s second major, though Stanley will not be able to further improve upon his standing, having opted not to play in next week’s Fedex St. Jude Classic.
“I’m not sure what the world ranking cutoff is, but I might sneak in there,” added Stanley, who missed the cut at last year’s U.S. Open.
While he now hopes the permutations of the OWGR grant him a spot at Merion, Stanley is still prepared to earn a berth the old-fashioned way at Monday’s qualifier, where approximately 15 spots are expected to be available in Columbus. He’s also well aware of the toll the 36-hole marathon will likely take.
“I’ll be ready to go home,” he added. “It will be a long day.”