Tag:memorial friday
Posted on: June 3, 2011 6:56 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 6:58 pm

Worn-out Donald shows no signs of fading

DUBLIN, Ohio -- It's hard to tell which has left Luke Donald more gassed, the miles he has logged in the air or on the grassy ground.

The newly minted world No. 1 took over the top spot in the rankings on Monday, after it took 73 holes to beat Lee Westwood outside London. A week earlier, he played six rounds to reach the finals of a match play event in Spain. Before that, he battled at the Players Championship in Florida and finished T4.

Now in Ohio, Donald has played four straight weeks in three countries and logged over 200 holes, pro-ams included, and still has the weekend left to play at the Memorial Tournament, where he's four shots off the lead.

"I've got enough for two more days," he said.

Donald shot 3-under 69 in the second round to stay within range of leader Steve Stricker, who took the last two weeks off.

It's not just that Donald has been playing, he's been in contention. He was second at match play before winning at Wentworth, which eats up even more energy. His caddie, John McLaren, was looking a bit drained after the second round at Muirfield Village on Friday, for certain.

Lotta miles, lotta time zones, lotta countries in a month's time.

"I'm looking forward to having a week off," Donald said. "I've had to work on managing my energy levels."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 5:34 pm

Fowler's pal also good with a crooked stick

DUBLIN, Ohio -- When Rickie Fowler holed out from the fairway in the first round of the Memorial Tournament on Thursday, he took the ball and casually flipped it to perhaps the biggest guy on the property.

"Here," Fowler said, "even trade."

After he finished up his second round, which left him six shots off the 36-hole lead, it all made a lot more sense.

The burly guy in question is Florida Panthers forward David Booth, one of the better players in the National Hockey League and a big golf fan. Fowler met him through a mutual acquaintance last winter at the ADT Skills Challenge, an unofficial competition in South Florida, where Fowler now resides.

Fowler attended a couple of NHL games in Miami this year and sat right on the glass, and Booth flashed him a fist pump at the 22-year-old golfer after scoring a goal just a few feet away from where Fowler was seated.

Booth came out and watched Fowler play at Doral earlier this year and the golfer flashed a few fist pumps back at Booth after birdie putts fell.

"Cool guy," Fowler said.

As for the ball, after one of the NHL games he attended, Booth had given Fowler a stick that he had used on the ice to score a goal.

So now they are even.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 5:31 pm
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Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:58 pm

Byrds of a feather lead Memorial together

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The NCAA golf finals are being staged this week in Oklahoma, and it's been a frequent topic of conversation on the driving range and the player locker room at the Memorial Tournament, which has a slew of players in the field who played on squads in contention for a national title.

Until Jonathan Byrd showed up on the leaderboard, few had noticed that a certain traditional powerhouse from South Carolina hadn't made the NCAA finals field.

Byrd's brother Jordan, an assistant coach at Clemson, is caddying for his younger sibling this week, which is how some of us first realized that the Tigers didn't make the finals. Jordan Byrd might be in line to take home a title of another sort entirely.

Seeking his third title since last fall, Jonathan shot a 5-under 67 in the second round and moved into a share of the early lead at Muirfield Village on Friday.

Jonathan attended Clemson, but the program's failure to advance to the postseason finale has quickly turned into a tolerable circumstance. Byrd's regular caddie, Adam Hayes, is home with a newborn child, so Jordan stepped in to fill the void. He's looped for his brother, who is 18 months younger, a few times over the years.

"I'm thankful our relationship is better than it was maybe in high school," the younger Byrd said. "We'd have been probably grabbing each other and wrestling out in the middle of the fairway. We love hanging out together and we have a lot of respect for each other and we just go play and have fun."

Byrd won earlier this year in Hawaii and lost in a playoff last month in Charlotte, to another Clemson alum, ironically, former teammate Lucas Glover.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:42 pm

McIlroy readies for very emotional weekend

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Put a certain way, Rory McIlroy certainly played an interesting, eventful, compelling round of golf Friday at the Memorial Tournament.

That said, would you prefer to receive the good news or bad news first? The latter? So be it.

The 22-year-old had a Mickelsonic round that included a slew of mistakes, such as four bogeys, a water ball, and a double bogey. But in the final analysis, his even-par 72 also included six birdies, which might be the most of the day by the time play is finished in the second round at Muirfield Village.

"It was a tough day," he said. "Every time I made a step foward it felt like I took one backward."

But the overall view isn't bad -- even though he bogeyed his last hole of the day, McIlroy still had a share of the lead at 6 under overall as the morning wave of play was winding down.

"I need to limit the mistakes," he said. "As long as I am within a sniff, I'm OK."

It's going to be a busy weekend for the Ulsterman, who will fly to Miami after the round to meet with UNICEF officials, who will accompany him on a field trip to earthquake- and poverty stricken Haiti afterward.

McIlroy is still awaiting more details of what the trip will include on the agends, but he's aware that his jaw will probably behitting the floor. He signed on as a UNICEF ambassador earlier this year because the organization works with children not much younger than he is.

"I'm sure you can't prepare yourself for what you will see and how people have been affected," he said.

He and his manager, Stuart Cage, will begin taking anti-malaria meds this weekend and did a test run already.

"We've taken a couple of trial ones to make sure he [Rory] doesn't fall over in mid-round," Cage said.

After the two-day visit in Haiti, McIlroy will fly back to Miami, then spend a couple of days outside Washington, D.C., preparing for the U.S. Open.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:25 pm

Barnes wants to announce first win for real

DUBLIN, Ohio -- One of the enduring characteristics at the Memorial Tournament takes place around the 18th green, where a portable public-address system is set up.

As players approached the green on their last hole, a tournament official announces the identities and accomplishments of the players in that particular group, listing their tour victories.

Ricky Barnes has been getting some guff about his intro.

He keeps being welcomed as a player with a PGA Tour victory to his credit, when that is most assuredly not the case. Not for a lack of trying.

"Yeah, they said that yesterday, too," Barnes said after the second round. "They [players] said, 'What event did you win?'"

Then again, if you like positive omens or harbingers ....

"Maybe they're foreseeing something this week," he said. "I'm hoping."

So far, he's put himself in a darned good postion to knock off his maiden victory, shooting 2-under 70 on Friday to claim a piece of the 36-hole lead as the morning wave completed play.

Barnes was right in the mix last year at Muirfield Village, where he finished third in his first visit. Barnes has certainly flirted with the winner's circle frequently over the past two years, finishing second at the 2009 U.S. Open and fourth this spring at the Honda Classic and Hilton Head.

Now 30, recently married and with a baby on the way, logging that first victory has been on his mind.

"I've put myself into good positions," he said. "Yeah, I'd love to get it. I was pretty good early on in the year keeping myself calm once I got into that position at Honda and Hilton Head. I was making some good swings -- unlucky bounce on a few holes there.

"But I'm feeling more mature on the golf course and a little more at ease once I get into that position."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:43 pm

Pampling closer to getting foot back in tour door

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rod Pampling feels like a guy in a tuxedo who knows how to dance but can't get his foot in the ballroom door.
"It's like being all dressed up with nowhere to go, that sort of thing," the Aussie veteran said.

After an uncharacteristically lean 2010 season that left on the outside looking in as far as PGA Tour eligibility, the two-time tour winner has fast put the pieces back together and has posting some notable strong results over the past few weeks.

The problem has been getting a chance to play.

While dealing with some familiy issues in 2010 that he declined to discuss, Pampling had his worst season in nine years on tour. A steady wage-earner who had not finished lower than 94th on the money list since joining the U.S. tour in 2002, he skidded to 180th and lost his exempt status.

He has been reduced to playing out of the past champions category, which is way down the pecking order for tournament admission, and thus has been playing in Monday qualifiers and seeking sponsor exemptions. Meanwhile, his game has certainly perked up with back-to-back top-10 finishes in Texas over the last two weeks.

In fact, he's finished 12th or better in three of his last four starts -- over a span of two months.

"I've been playing well for two or three months and just haven't been able to get in any events," he said.

Tournament host Jack Nicklaus gave Pampling a sponsor exemption this week and the Aussie certainly made the most of it, shooting a 6-under 66 on Friday to move into a tie for second place as the morning wave at the memorial Tournament was playing out.

Pampling is entered in a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus on Monday and when it was noted that he's certainly playing well enough to secure a spot in the field, he laughed.

"I'm trying to solve it all right here," he said of winning this week. "Screw the Q's. I've had enough of those."
Category: Golf
Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:59 am

Fowler shines at Memorial with late coach on mind

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rickie Fowler reached into his golf bag on Friday morning and produced his cell phone, then started rifling through the applications until he found what he was looking for.

He finally found the photo that had been sent along to him by his parents and sister a few days ago.

The trio of family members was positioned under a huge tree at the driving range where Fowler had learned the game as a kid from the local pro, a venerable guy named Barry McDonnell, who died last week in Southern California after having a heart attack.

It was under the same tree that Fowler and McDonnell worked together during the formative years of the kid's career, set apart from the rest of the customers who were banging balls on the range. Fowler had been hitting balls at the range for a while when McDonnell began coaching him at age 7, when he was too little to control his adult-sized driver at the top of his swing arc.

They worked together every few months, Fowler said, though golf wasn't always at the fore of the lesson.

"He was more of a guidance counselor," Fowler said before his round on Friday at the Memorial Tournament, where he began the day two strokes off the lead. "He kept me in line."

A memorial service is set for next week in California and Fowler will head back to Murrietta, where he grew up and learned the game from the veteran teacher. Fowler said McDonnell was 77 and that there was no formal funeral.

"I sort of wish they had -- it would have been cool to scatter his ashes under the tree or something," Fowler said.

Yeah, that same tree where Fowler's family had posed for the photo.

McDonnell taught Fowler, 22, how to play the game intuitively, and in an era of cookie-cutter and robo-swings, Fowler definitely smacks of a distinct homegrown flavor.

That flat loop at the top of his swing is a direct result of playing with grown-up drivers at a young age, when Fowler couldn't quite maneuver at the top of his swing because he was so little.

With all the back story, it would indeed be a fitting week for the rising star to win his first PGA Tour event. Fowler could do the black-armband thing on the weekend if he wins as a gesture to his old swing coach and mentor.

"Working on it," Fowler said.

Category: Golf
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