Kuchar leads Memorial as Woods balloons

By Doug FergusonJune 1, 2013, 11:53 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Matt Kuchar couldn't think of conditions more difficult than Saturday in the Memorial, and he had plenty of evidence.

The swirling wind that made it difficult to pull the right club. Fast greens that led to 65 three-putts in the third round alone. And a 44 on the back nine for Tiger Woods, the highest nine-hole score of his professional career.

''I think most of us would tend to be surprised any time Tiger shoots a number like that, but a lot more understandable in these conditions,'' Kuchar said after hanging on for a 2-under 70 that gave him a two-shot lead.

''If you're not on good form, these conditions are really going to beat you up.''

Woods rallied on the front nine to salvage a 79, matching his second-worst score on the PGA Tour. And that wasn't even the highest score on a tough day at Muirfield Village. Jordan Spieth shot 45 on the front nine for an 82, while Zach Johnson and Justin Hicks each had an 81.


Highlights: Woods struggles to 7-over 79 on Day 3

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Kevin Chappell matched the best round of the day with a 4-under 68, leaving him two shots out of the lead, along with Kyle Stanley, who had a 70. Chappell loves having a chance to win his first PGA Tour event, which isn't to suggest it was fun getting to that position.

''I guess it's like a prize fighter,'' Chappell said. ''He enjoys winning, but I don't know if he enjoys getting hit that much.''

Kuchar was at 8-under 208, among 10 players separated by four shots.

''It was a bit of survival,'' Kuchar said. ''I was fortunate to make a handful of birdies. I think anytime you make a birdie in these conditions, you feel like you're really up on the field here. Most of these holes, you're looking at just getting out with a par.''

Woods didn't get away with anything.

Going for his sixth win at the Memorial, and his fourth victory in his last five tournaments, Woods had two double bogeys and a triple bogey on the back nine for a 44, and he did that without a penalty shot.

''The conditions were tough and when I missed it cost me,'' Woods said through a PGA Tour media official. ''I caught the wrong gusts at the wrong time, made a couple bad swings and all in all, it just went the wrong way.''

He wound up 16 shots out of the lead. Woods will tee off late Sunday, but on the opposite side of the course in the two-tee start because of weather.

The tournament was happy just to complete 54 holes with mid-afternoon storms that avoided Muirfield Village.

Bill Haas, the 36-hole leader, ran off three straight bogeys late in his round for a 76, and he wasn't all that upset about it. Haas was still only three shots back, and it wasn't hard to determine that par was a good score.

Like so many other players, Chappell wasn't sure which way the wind was blowing. On the 14th hole, with a wedge in hand from 105 yards, he felt the wind coming into him from the right, yet the flag was blowing in the opposite direction.

''I kept saying, 'Wow, this is tough here.' You hit a good shot and end up in a bad spot,'' Chappell said. ''What can I do? You've just got to keep doing it, put one foot in front of the other and finish each hole.''

Past winner Justin Rose had a 71 and joined Haas and Matt Jones (70) at 5-under 211. Masters champion Adam Scott had a 69 and was in the group at 4 under that included Charl Schwartzel, who was within one shot of the lead after completing the second round Saturday morning. The South African bogeyed both par 5s on the back nine and took double bogey on the 14th. He had a 41 on the back for a 76.

That was still better than Woods, whose round was somewhat of a mystery – not only because the world's No. 1 player was in great form coming into a course where he has won five times, but because he was in good position off the tee. Woods, who started the round on No. 10, missed only one fairway on the back nine.

He took double bogey on the par-3 12th when he was in such a bad spot in the front bunker that he had to play out sideways to the wrong side of a long green, and then he three-putted. On the par-5 15th, he pulled his second shot well to the left, and then took two chips to get onto the putting surface only for the ball to run through the green. He really was fooled on the 18th, with a chip that spun back down the hill and a three-putt from short range.

He had three birdies on the front nine to avoid his worst score as a pro. That was an 81 at another Muirfield – the real one – in the third round of the British Open that cost him his best shot at the calendar Grand Slam in 2002.

Kuchar surged into the lead with two birdies on the front nine and didn't drop a shot until the ninth hole, when he missed the green to the left. The wind got him on the 15th when his high fairway metal drifted beyond the bunker and into a hazard that Kuchar didn't know existed, leading to bogey.

He saved par with a 10-foot putt on the par-3 16th, and made regulation pars coming in to give himself the 54-hole lead for the second straight week. He also was atop the leaderboard at Colonial, only to finish second to Boo Weekley.

''If you're not hitting the ball solid, you don't have a chance,'' Kuchar said.

Rory McIlroy had a 75, and part of him was happy to do that. He was safely inside the cut line when he returned Saturday morning to finish his round, and he birdied the 15th hole. He followed with back-to-back bogeys, and then came up short of the green and had to get up-and-down to avoid missing the cut. He made a 4-foot par save.

Pat Perez and former Masters champion Bubba Watson were among those at 3-under 213, still with a chance but needing some help. Tee times were pushed back for Sunday in case of early storms that might require time to clean up the course.

Perez was asked whether he wanted more wind.

''I'd like it to be dead calm,'' he said. ''But I haven't hit a shot when it's not blowing 40 mph.''

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: