By KEVIN APRILE
DUBLIN â€” He said he warmed up fine, but when third-round leader Mathew Goggin hit the first tee Sunday he had to admit he was battling more than just a tougher-than-usual Muirfield Village golf course.
Nerves were definitely a factor in his poor start and eventual tie-for-second finish, said Goggin, who was trying not only to become the Memorialâ€™s first wire-to-wire winner and the first player to ever win the tournament on his first try (other than the inaugural event), he was also trying to nail down his first PGA Tour win.
Though he striped a tee shot down the first fairway, those nerves surfaced when he dumped an 8-iron into a right greenside bunker and failed to get up and down for par.
â€œThat kind of unnerved me,â€ the 33-year-old Australian said of his ugly approach shot. â€œThatâ€™s usually my strong point.â€
Goggin, who began the day with a three-shot lead, parred the next two holes but bogeyed the par-3 fourth to quickly drop to 6 under and out of the lead. Though he shot even par the rest of the way to finish with a 74, his early struggles were tough to overcome.
â€œItâ€™s a long day, I didnâ€™t expect to go out and not make a bogey,â€ he said of how opening with a bogey affected his psyche. â€œBut to not hit quality shots for the next three holes, that was disturbing. â€¦ It took four holes to get in a good rhythm and that cost me the tournament.â€
Though disappointed, he took some positives from the week.
â€œI was pretty happy with the way I stuck at it,â€ he said of Sundayâ€™s round. â€œIt was a terrible start that could have easily turned into a really bad day and you get nothing out if it.â€
A birdie at the 18th might give him some needed momentum for today, too, when heâ€™ll play a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in Memphis, Tenn.
NO â€˜MOâ€™ FOR MICKELSON: Despite coming to town fresh off his second win of the season, Phil Mickelson never got it going at Muirfield Village. His approach at 18 buried in the back bunker Sunday, leading to a near-impossible shot and a closing bogey that left him 2-over for the tournament , He finished tied for 20th, 10 shots out of the lead after rounds of 72-75-70-73. â€œConditions are tough,â€ Mickelson said. â€œThatâ€™s the biggest thing, whether youâ€™re talking about quick greens or knee-high rough.â€ The 41/2-inch rough was so thick, Mickelson said there were probably five or six times during the week that he just hacked out of it rather than take a rip at a shot and risk injuring himself with the U.S. Open looming in two weeks. Last year Mickelson hurt his wrist while hitting out of the rough during an early Open practice session at Oakmont Country Club. But despite that and his rather pedestrian play at the Memorial, Mickelson planned to take positive thoughts to the Open, which will be played at one of his favorite courses, Torrey Pines. â€œIâ€™m looking forward to getting back to San Diego and getting on Torrey Pines,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a tournament Iâ€™d love to win and now that itâ€™s in my backyard, Iâ€™d really like to do well.â€ While Tiger Woods is considered the overwhelming favorite, having won the Buick Invitational five times at Torrey Pines, Mickelson has two wins of his own there. Both grew up in Southern California and played the course many times over the years. Mickelson was actually born in San Diego and resides in nearby Rancho Santa Fe.
Â â€˜BIG MAMA,â€™ BURKE UP NEXT: Two hall of famers will be next yearâ€™s Memorial Tournament honorees, the Captains Club announced Sunday. JoAnne â€œBig Mamaâ€ Carner, the owner of 43 LPGA titles and two U.S. Opens, and Jack Burke Jr., a two-time major champion with 17 career wins, got the nod. Carner was one of the top players in womenâ€™s golf in the 1970s and â€˜80s, winning LPGA Player of the Year honors three times and five times winning the Vare Trophy for the lowest stroke average on tour. A U.S. Open champ in 1971 and â€˜76, Carner was inducted into the LPGA and World Golf hall of fames in 1982. Burkeâ€™s big year was 1956 when he was named PGA Tour Player of the Year after winning the Masters and PGA Championship as well as the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000, Burke had a 7-1 record as a player on five Ryder Cup teams.
CHIP-INS: Masters champ Trevor Immelman had an interesting closing round. Though his 3-under 69 doesnâ€™t sound all that impressive, he did birdie half the course. Unfortunately for him, he mixed in two bogeys and a pair of double bogeys to go with those nine birdies. He finished the tournament 4 over. â€¦ Goggin has company in coming up short in his bid to lead the tournament wire-to-wire. Three others led the first three days and none of them won either. In 2005, Jeff Sluman shot 72 on Sunday to finish tied for third; in 1989, Fuzzy Zoeller shot 72 and finished second; and in 1982 Roger Maltbie shot 74 and finished tied for second. â€¦ Itâ€™s never enough, is it? No matter how long players hang around and sign autographs, someoneâ€™s always disappointed. When Stewart Cink told some fans he didnâ€™t have any items to give them, one of them asked â€¦ jokingly, we hope â€¦ if they could have his shirt. He politely declined.
QUOTABLE I: â€œI hit just a perfect shot, exactly where I wanted, carried over the right side of the right bunker, and had it hit the hill and come in. And it did exactly that. But I left myself with an unmakeable putt.â€ â€” Jerry Kelly sarcastically describing the 8-foot birdie putt he missed at 17 that would have pulled him with a stroke of the lead after Kenny Perry bogeyed the hole. He punctuated his comments by lightly banging his head three times on the microphone he was speaking into.
QUOTABLE II: â€œIâ€™m looking forward to grandkids. Better get bizzay.â€Â â€” Kenny Perry, 47, after just mentioning that his daughter, Leslie, recently got engaged. She was in the room and turned more than a little red.
Aprile may be reached at email@example.com or 440-329-7135.