DUBLIN, Ohio -- All's fair in love, war and the subtle coersion known as seeking sponsor exemptions.
Chris DiMarco didn't qualify for the field at the Memorial Tournament based on his play this year, so he had to play the memory-lane card on tournament host Jack Nicklaus to get a spot in the 120-man field.
DiMarco played on two Presidents Cup teams captained by Nicklaus and made the dramatic winning putt in the final group in 2005 to secure the U.S. victory.
"I kept reminding him, 'Remember that putt I made in the Presidents Cup?' I could use a spot here," DiMarco laughed.
The American veteran made Nicklaus seem downright prescient by granting him a sponsor exemption, shooting a 5-under 67 that left him tied for second after the morning wave of play was completed at Muirfield Village.
It tied DiMarco's career-low round at Muirfield, set when he finished T14 two years ago. He can sorely use a similarly high finish. DiMarco stands No. 115 in earnings this season, and if he holds that spot, it would represent his best finish since 2007, when he was No. 107 in earnings. Since then, he has not finished in the top 125 and is playing this year on a career money-list exemption.
DiMarco's results this year have been unpredictable to say the least. He has played 15 times and missed seven cuts, but had decent finishes when he has made the weekend, finishing in the top 30 five times. It's a far cry from his world top-10 days of six or seven years ago, when he finished second in three differennt majors, but he senses some improvement is building after several lackluster seasons.
He was in the mix heading into the weekend last week at the Byron Nelson, but shot 75 and 74 on the weekend to finish T32.
"I've been playing good, solid golf," he said. "I'm excited. It's close, it'e getting there. It was fun out there."