Lefty Langley feels good about Memorial chances
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — No lefty has ever won in the 38 years of the Memorial Tournament.
Now the two guys with the best chances of shaking right hands with tournament founder Jack Nicklaus on Sunday are both left-handed.
One is Bubba Watson. The other isn’t Phil Mickelson.
It’s Scott Langley, a household name only at his house in Illinois, who will join Watson in the final pairing. Watson holds a one-shot lead over Langley heading into the final round.
A non-winner in 52 PGA Tour events, the 25-year-old University of Illinois grad will try to rein in his emotions when he steps into the big spotlight.
“Out here, maybe the intensity is a little higher and there’s a little more at stake,” he said, comparing college competition with what he faces every week as a second-year pro. “So I’m just kind of stepping back and taking a deep breath and staying centered in the moment.”
Langley finished third at the Sony Open a year ago in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. This year he placed third again at the Valspar Open.
He tied for 68th last week at Colonial, but felt he got a bump from his 69 on Sunday.
“Sometimes the good weeks come out of nowhere,” he said. “I didn’t play great at Colonial last week but I felt like I had a really good final round. So maybe a little bit of momentum kind of pushed me into this week.”
BUBBA ON 18: While Bubba Watson was bogeying the final hole to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Memorial, a close-up of his fourth shot created some controversy.
Watson was using his 3-wood to bump the ball from the collar of the rough below the hole when it appeared he slightly touched it with the club.
The PGA Tour was watching. And re-watching.
“We looked at it in real time,” said tour rules official Slugger White. “It looked like he may have touched it. And the ball didn’t move. That’s all. It was easy.”
Under rule 18-2a, a player when addressing the ball can make contact with it and no penalty is given if the ball returns to its original position.
White said there was no real debate about whether the ball ever really moved.
“I wouldn’t even call it moving,” he said. “I don’t think it even moved out of where it was.”
OPPOSITE OF AWESOME: Phil Mickelson’s day could be summed up by his reaction when he walked into the post-round interview room after shooting a pedestrian 72 on Saturday at the Memorial Tournament.
“Awesome,” he said, tongue in cheek, as he surveyed the reporters handling cameras, microphones, notebooks and tape recorders.
Mickelson is being investigated by the FBI for alleged involvement in insider trading. He denies he has done anything wrong and says he has cooperated and is cooperating fully with authorities.
Mickelson, a five-time major-championship winner and the reigning British Open champion, planned to use the Memorial to hone his game for the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pinehurst.
He felt he could put the investigation behind him.
“I think that as a player you have to be able to block out whatever is going on off the golf course and be able to focus on the golf course,” he said. “And it’s not going to change the way I carry myself.”
Mickelson has had rounds of 72, 70 and 70 to stand at 2-under 214.
As he made the turn a fan, unaware of the irony, shouted, “Take care of business, Phil!”
He had his good moments and bad. He birdied the 14th and 15th holes, only to follow up with bogeys on the next two holes. He missed a couple of short birdie putts, and also holed a couple of lengthy ones to save par.
He was asked to describe his round.
“Interesting,” he said with a grin. “Most of my rounds are, but just for other reasons.”
CURSED HOLES: The 16th at the Memorial Tournament continues to be a major test for everyone.
But other players say the 18th might be the toughest on the property.
The 196-yard par-3 hole surrendered only three birdies but 26 bogeys and one triple (by Hyun-Sung Kim), making it the second-hardest hole on the course. The average score was 3.395 marks it as the hardest hole on the day.
With the wind coming from behind the players on the tee, and the greens slick and fast and dry for a change, it’s awfully hard to keep the ball on the putting surface.
“It’s the shortest par-4 on tour, that 16th hole,” Phil Mickelson cracked. “It’s reachable with an iron for most guys.”
Mickelson has bogeyed it all three rounds. Well, officially he has. According to the way he sees it, he hasn’t bogeyed it because to him it’s a par-4 hole.
“I’ve made three pars these last three days, in my mind,” he laughed.
But there is a large group of players who contend that 18th — an uphill, downwind, narrow par-4 — is the hardest hole.
There’s a creek stretching along the left side that catches anything close. Sahara-sized bunkers line the right side of the fairway. And there’s a big tree 300 yards out that seems to bat away shots like Dikembe Mutombo.
Course designer Jack Nicklaus extended the tee back 40 yards last summer before the Presidents Cup, making the second shot one of the longest and most difficult on tour.
There were only eight birdies on it on Saturday, against 20 bogeys and three doubles. With an average score of 4.237, it was just the fourth hardest hole on the course.
In the third round, the pin was tucked near the deep bunker left of the green and on a radical slope from back to front. Hit the ball past the pin, and you’re forced to try to put the brakes on the ball before it runs all the way off.
“That pin is just always going to be ridiculously hard,” said Jordan Spieth, who managed to par the hole while shooting a 67. “Dustin (Johnson) and I were left with 15 feet where you just could tap it and hope it takes the right break.”
QUOTABLE: Third-round leader Bubba Watson, asked if he wanted to win the Memorial because of the strength of field: “The challenge doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s just winning would mean a big deal to me. I don’t care if the golf course is what we call easy or difficult. I just want to win.”
BOUNCEBACK: Rory McIlroy opened with a 62 to lead the Memorial by three strokes, lapsed to an ugly 78 (including three consecutive double-bogeys) and then turned things around in the third round.
McIlroy shot a 69 on Saturday which left him feeling buoyant and upbeat.
“I played well on the back nine,” he said, the opposite of what he did in the second round. “I had an eagle on 11 and then finished the round off really well. I finished with three 3s, which a few guys out there will take this afternoon.”
He added, “I’m really happy with the finish. I’m not quite in the mix or in contention, but I’m pretty close. Another good score tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes.”
DIVOTS: Several young patients from Nationwide Children’s Hospital will be on the driving range on Sunday to help course workers. ... Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama will be paired for the fifth time in less than a year at Muirfield Village. They were teammates for four matches last fall for the Presidents Cup. ... Charl Schwartzel had a 67 that could have been even better. He birdied holes 2, 5, 6 and 7, but missed a 2-footer for birdie at 3 and a 6-footer at 4 or he would have had six in a row. ... Ben Martin had the best round of the day, a 65. He climbed from a tie for 64th to a tie for 11th. ... Gary Woodland was 3-under for his round coming to the 11th tee. Then he went double-double-double while shooting a 75. ... Adam Scott completed a career sweep of the Texas events last week with a victory at Colonial. If the world’s No. 1-ranked player were to win the Memorial, it would give him an Ohio sweep as well. He won the Bridgestone in 2011.
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