Par 5: Questions for the Memorial

By Randall MellMay 31, 2011, 2:43 pm

Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for the Memorial ...

What kind of respect will new No. 1 Luke Donald command at the Memorial?

More respect than any American player is getting these days.

That’s what the oddsmakers tell us.

Whether you approve of gambling or not, one of the best ways to view the public’s confidence in a player is through the odds established by golf’s major betting houses. The whole “science” of oddsmaking is based on gauging the public’s perception of who ought to be favored to win. Really, it’s the betting public that sets odds.

Ladbrokes makes Donald the favorite at the Memorial this week at 10-to-1 with Phil Mickelson getting the next best odds at 14-to-1.

Though Donald’s never won a major, he’s also now the co-favorite with Mickelson to win the U.S. Open with the odds on each of them at 12-to-1, according to Ladbrokes.

So how long will Donald’s run at No. 1 last?

We’re in a different territory in the world rankings.

Donald is the fourth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the last 32 weeks.

It's been 14 years since so many different players have held the top ranking in such a short span.

Before Tiger Woods was overtaken in the world rankings last fall, you would have to go back more than 4,200 weeks to find four different players holding the top spot. Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Woods were the only players to hold the top ranking between June 13, 1998, and Oct. 30, 2010.

Back in the late spring/early summer of 1997, Greg Norman, Tom Lehman, Els and Woods took turns holding the top spot over a 10-week period.

Donald’s run at No. 1 shouldn’t be the shortest in OWGR history. Lehman held the top spot a single week in the spring of 1997. With No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Martin Kaymer taking this week off, Donald’s run should last at least two weeks.

After that? With three major championships and a World Golf Championship in the next 11 weeks, there’s a load of world ranking points up for grabs this summer. If somebody gets hot, a player could build a nice lead at No. 1. If parity continues as golf’s theme, we could see a lot more volatility at the top.

Will there be tea and crumpets in the players’ lounge at the Memorial?

There’s a decidedly English theme at Muirfield Village this week.

England’s Justin Rose is back as the defending champ with England’s Donald making his debut as the world’s new No. 1.

Donald’s obviously on a roll. He’s won twice and finished second twice in his last nine world starts with his worst finish at tie for 10th. Since missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open, here’s how Donald's results line reads: W, T-10, T-6, T-4, 2nd, T-8, T-4, 2nd, W.

Rose won the Memorial and the AT&T National within a month’s span last year. He’s made all but one cut in 12 starts this year with strong finishes at the Northern Trust Open (T-9), Transitions Championship (T-5) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (T-3).

Who’s best suited to make the U.S. relevant again on golf’s world stage?

The BMW PGA Championship didn’t need the Americans last weekend.

Though there were questions whether U.S. players should make the trip to the European Tour’s flagship event, the truth is that once the first tee shot was struck, nobody on the other side of the pond cared that there were no Americans there. The storylines were strong and plentiful with Donald outdueling Westwood to win the title and the No. 1 ranking, with 18-year-old Matteo Manassero in the mix for his third title and with Ian Poulter and Els feuding over course design.

The Americans are being overshadowed in a large way in the world’s biggest events, from the last four majors to The Ryder Cup and the world ranking battle for No. 1. If not for all the focus on Woods, they’d be nearly irrelevant.

With Woods hurt and slumping, Phil Mickelson’s the Great American Hope, the United States’ biggest name with the biggest persona and the most cachet.

Though he’s failed with so many chances to become No. 1, Mickelson’s best suited this week to carry the American banner back onto the game’s grandest stages.

Is this the week Rory McIlroy gets his mojo back?

McIlroy conceded at the BMW Championship last week that he’s still making his way back from the dizzying blow of his Masters’ loss.

“I think I need to get myself into that position again to know how I've got over it and if I'll handle it better,” McIlroy said. “I think I've put a few things in place that will make me handle being in that position better again. But you never really know until you're tested in that environment.”

Since The Masters, McIlroy’s spent time with putting wizard Dave Stockton and sports psychologist Bob Rotella.

After squandering the 54-hole lead at the Masters, McIlroy made a quick rebound at the Maybank Malaysian the next week, immediately getting into contention before losing late in the final round to Manassero with a clumsy finish.

The double dose of disappointment seemed to catch up to him with the down time that followed.

McIlroy missed the cut in defense of his title at the Wells Fargo Championship, his first return to the United States since the Masters. He was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Volvo World Match Play and never got in contention at the BMW PGA after opening with a 76. He seemed to find some rhythm playing the weekend at Wentworth and will be looking to build upon it at the Memorial.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."