Tag:memorial thursday
Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:15 pm

Major winner Cink wants Memorial on resume

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Stewart Cink is one of the most glib, insightful and honest players on the PGA Tour, if not all of professional golf.

So when he gives you an introductory teaser like, "I shouldn't say this, but ...," you owe it to yourself to listen.

The Ryder Cup veteran has seven top-12 finishes at the Memorial Tournament, including consecutive eighth-place finishes. The British Open winner said there are good tournaments and there are <i>good</i> tournaments, and this event falls clearly in the latter basket.

That's why he would love to win it someday. After shooting 4-under 68 Thursday to claim a nine-way piece of fifth place, there's no time like the present.

"They don't like for us to say it, but there are tiers that exist in tournaments, and the Memorial is right up there as far as one of the non‑majors as one of the highest and well‑respected events," Cink said. "With the field and the course and [host Jack] Nicklaus, his presence, it would mean everything.

"There's a lot of good winners of this tournament."

Six of the top 10 players in the world ranking are in the field and 15 of the top 25 overall.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:00 pm

Caddie swap doesn't throw D.J., Couples for loop

DUBLIN, Ohio -- To shamelessly swipe a rather famous song lyric: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

In an interesting subplot during the first two days of the Memorial Tournament, Fred Couples and Dustin Johnson were placed in the same group, just weeks after Couples' longtime caddie went to work for the latter, younger star.

Veteran looper Joe LaCava has teamed with Couples for two decades, and when Johnson parted ways with his old caddie, Bobby Brown, LaCava was given the job at the Players Championship. Johnson said there was no tension in the first round Thursday -- quite the contrary.

Not that he or Couples are the high-strung dramatic type, anyway.

"It was fine," said Johnson, who shot 68 and is tied for fifth. "Freddie is a great guy. There's no hard feelings there. You know, we talked about it the other day.  But everything is good, and I'm happy to have Joe working on the bag for me. I'm looking forward to having a few good weeks here coming up."

Couples has been playing sporadically of late on the senior tour because of injuries, and Johnson certainly presents more earnings potential.

"There's no bad blood or anything like that," Johnson said. "They were together for 21 years and are really close friends. Yeah, it was nice. We had a great time out there today."

Johnson, who used a couple of short-term stand-in caddies until hiring LaCava, gave his version on hos the pairing came to be.

"Well, obviously I was looking for a caddie, and Freddie was -- he's hurt, he's struggling with his back right now, so Joe came and caddied for me at the Players and he wanted a full time job, so I said yeah," Johnson said.

After years of working for a power player like Couples, it didn't take long for LaCava to grasp the nuances of Johnson's power game, apparently.

"He's got it dialed in already," Johnson said. "I don't think it, especially with good guys, it doesn't take very long to 'club' people."

Posted on: June 2, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 6:44 pm

McIlroy to undertake 'eye-opening' trip to Haiti

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The following statement is about as close to a declarative fact as somebody can write given that it can never be conclusively proven.

Next week, rising Northern Ireland superstar Rory McIlroy will become the first golfer ever to go from poverty-stricken Haiti to the ultra-exclusive grounds of private Pine Valley Golf Club in the span of one week. The seemingly incomprehensible, polarized paradox isn't lost on the 22-year-old, either.

"It's going to be an eye-opening experience," he said. "I don't really know what to expect."

Just as well. It would be hard to prepare him for the culture shock that surely awaits.

The Ulsterman, who is tied for the lead after an opening 66 on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament, has signed as a celebrity spokesperson with UNICEF and will go on a two-day trip to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, on Monday and Tuesday.

He and manager Stuart Cage will make the trip and will be escorted around the island nation by UNICEF officials, and neither had a lot of additional details about what's on the agenda. He signed on with the charity earlier this year, he said.

"You want to associate yourself with a charity that you feel close to, and UNICEF works mainly as a children's charity, and I feel like I'm the sort of age that I can relate to the younger people," he said. "I just don't want to really put my name to it, I wanted to do something, and they were very keen for me to go and see somewhere where they're hands on and they're working, and it sort of just fit in quite well that I could go to Haiti for a couple of days and see what they do."

Before they visit the disease-wracked nation, Cage said they will be taking malaria pills starting this weekend as a precaution and took a test dose last week to madke sure they didn't have any unintended sife effects. According to estimates, 30,000 residents each year contract malaria. According to another report, 90 percent of children in Haiti are afflicted with water-born diseases or intestinal parasites.

The published data on HIV, the number of orphans, life expectancy and thelike are positively staggering.  

"It should be quite an experience," Cage said.

No kidding. From posh Muirfield Village this week, McIlroy will head straight to Haiti, then spend a couple of days practicing at U.S. Open site Congressional Country Club and then head to Pine Valley the week preceding the Open.

No quality-of-life spectrum could possibly be broader.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:23 pm

Kirk walks softly, carries big sticks

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Other than being a placekicker or punter, golf is one of the tougher professional sports gigs for somebody with a nagging foot injury. Every day at work includes a long walk over decidedly uneven terrain.

Promising rookie Chris Kirk has a cyst on his right foot that was giving him plenty of trouble, so last month, he started wearing a new soft-soled shoe made by Footjoy called the Street.

Pretty easy to tell where the name was derived: His shoes look like a pair of black, Chuck Taylor lowtop basketball shoes with soft spikes added on the bottom. They are made of leather, not canvas, however.

"It's the best I have felt since about 2009," he said.

It shows. Kirk shot a 2-under 70 to continue a strong freshman campaign that includes two top-10 finishes and a spot at No. 47 on the money list. He's possibly locked up his card for 2012 with more than $800,000 in earnings, in fact.

Last week's event at the Byron Nelson was an exception. Kirk was disqualified for signing an incorrect card after absent-mindedly writing down a par on his last hole, when he made a bogey five. 

"I hit it in the water and a bunker on that hole," he said. "So I don't know why the heck I thought I had made a four."
Category: Golf
Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:04 pm

For Lefty, bigger picture better than small one

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Since Phil Mickelson isn't playing his traditional tune-up event next week in advance of the U.S. Open, it might be best to accentuate the positives of his level-par 72 in the first round of the Memorial Tournament.

Mickelson, the top-ranked American in the world at No. 4, did have some satisfactory results in a couple of regards with the Open just two weeks away.

He hit 10 of 14 fairways and was particularly efficient with a new 2-iron model he has been trying on tight tee shots. With the new club, he hit four of five fairways at Muirfield Village and averaged an impressive 268 yards off the tee on those shots.

In all, he mustered three birdies, had a sloppy double bogey, and was none too pleased afterward in general.

"I felt like I played better than that," Mickelson said. "I didn't manage my game very well in spots, or score the best."

Mickelson usually plays the week before majors, but is skipping the Memphis event next week and will instead use much of the time to practice at the Open site, Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C. He is a five-time runner-up at the U.S. Open.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:48 pm

No tap-outs for Fowler at Memorial this week

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Rickie Fowler blew off a group dinner opportunity on Wednesday night at a famous local burger joint called the Thurman Cafe.

To borrow a marketing phrase from a few years ago, there wasn't much question as to, "where's the beef."

It wasn't just on the dinner plate. It was parked on the opposite side of the table.

As it turned out, one of the dinner guests was Mark Coleman, a famous brawler in Ultimate Fighting Championship circles and a former wrestler at nearby Ohio State. When Fowler didn't make it, XM Radio's Michael Collins posted a video of Coleman, staring menacingly into the camera recorder from across the dinner table, a bandana on his head, ragging on the second-year pro.

In a faux growl, Coleman said of Fowler's social gaffe, "that's a bogey five."

Here's the clip: http://twitvid.com/HSNJM

There weren't a lot of bogeys on Fowler's card in the first round of the Memorial Tournament, where he shot a 4-under 68 that included a hole-out from the fairway for an eagle on the 15th hole.

Fowler has started to take some heat in certain circles because he hasn't won and has generated mountains of hype. In fact, he hasn't seriously contended on the weekend since finishing second at the Memorial last year, where he led in the fiinal round before making a momentum-draining double-bogey on the 12th hole.

"I haven't been in contention a whole lot," Fowler said of his season, which included two top-10 finishes. "I've had a few looks. I've been more consistent ... made more cuts."

Indeed, the colorful, 22-year-old Ryder Cup hero has six top-20 finishes and three missed cuts in 13 starts.

"I'm trying to step it up," he said. "I need to start playing a little better."

Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:58 pm

DiMarco twists arms, then busts par

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."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:28 pm

Stricker putting super in superstition

DUBLIN, Ohio -- There are no baseball dugouts in golf, no verboten chatter between teammates. Heck, thera are no teammates.

Which doesn't mean some of the same superstitions don't hold true in golf.

When a certain sensitive topic was raised with veteran Steve Stricker, he feigned anger and said, "I don't want to talk about it. Why would you bring that up?"

The topic was his PGA Tour-leading cut streak, which stands at 32 events in succession and encompasses parts of three seasons. The last time the Wisconsin native failed to play on the weekend was at the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.

So if he was acting like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, he's got good reason. No sense jinxing himself, right?

Interestingly, the veteran's record at the Memorial Tournament will sound familiar. He has played at the Memorial 11 times and missed only one cut, but never posted a top-10 finish. That's one jinx he would gladly break.

"I am looking foward to changing that this week," he said.

Stricker shot a 4-under 68, which matched his best round ever at Muirfield Village and was only the fifth time in 42 tournament rounds that be posted a score below 70 at the widely hailed Nicklaus venue.


Category: Golf
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