American Matt Kuchar fired a final round 68 to hold off fellow American Kevin Chappell by firing 12-under-par 276 to win the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Sunday. Chappell, who also fired a final round 68 to finish at 10-under-par 278, took second three shots ahead of American Kyle Stanley who took third at seven-under.
Matt Kuchar began Sunday in the final threesome holding a two-shot lead over Chappell and Stanley. He indicated his intentions on No. 1 with a birdie to take a three-shot lead and it was all downhill from there as a player of his class wasn’t going to concede a 54-hole lead for the second week in a row. His 34-34 on Sunday ensured that wasn’t going to be the case. Kuchar finished the weekend hitting 23 of 28 fairways and that kept him out of trouble as he posted scores of 70-68. It also didn’t hurt that he led the field in GIR and was second in strokes gained-putting. That’s how you win a golf tournament right there. Kuchar and Chappell were the only two players to play all four rounds under par.
Kuchar now becomes the second multiple winner on TOUR in 2013, joining four-time winner Tiger Woods. Kuchar kicked his season off with T9 and T5 finishes in Hawaii before hitting the winner’s circle at WGC-Match Play in late February. After three more finishes at 35 or better, Kuchar banged a T8 at the Masters. After three weeks of gamers pulling their collective hair out with finishes of T35, T48 and T33, Kuchar now has finished second and WIN in his last two. Check this out: the last non-major cut that he missed on US soil was the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship. Sure, it’s not a top 10 every time out but it’s usually the weekend and that consistency leads to “bursts” like this week and last week. Finally, his last four wins have been the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, THE PLAYERS, The WGC-Match Play and the Memorial. Not bad fields in those events…This is the first year he’s ever won twice on TOUR so he’s rewarded the season-long gamers who stuck him on their rosters before 2013 began. Well done!
He plays ping pong like a champ. He plays tennis like a champ. He plays golf like a champ as well. He has a great family and has been in great form since 2009. He reminds me of Steve Stricker four years ago and it’s almost the same “comeback” story. He’s only in his mid-30s so anything is possible and breaking through in a major has to be on that list. After the way he worked his golf ball this week, he’s in my top five for Merion in two weeks.
With this victory, Kuchar collects $1,116,000 and 500 FedExCup points and his first Memorial championship.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 23 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 19.
There have also been nine first-time winners this season. There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22),Bae (26) and Weekley (39). The young folks (30 and younger) now have nine victories; the 30-somethings have racked up a dozen victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Ken Duke, 44, was T17 this week to fly the flag for the over-40 crew.
Kuchar is the 31st winner in 38 events to fly the US flag. If you are waffling about him again this time next year please remember that in his last six tries (in six attempts as well) at Memorial, his worse finish has been T13. He did not play here last year.
Kuchar now has 35 top 10s since 2010. This leads the PGA Tour in this time frame.
Kuchar didn’t hold his 54-hole lead last week at Colonial but he redeemed himself this weekend.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Kevin Chappell: In eight previous rounds at Muirfield Village, Chappell had played just two of those under 73 and his best finish was T37 in 2011. He missed the cut in 2009 and last year so to say this week was a surprise is a bit of an understatement. He was T49 in GIR and 34th in strokes gained-putting but the name of the game is getting the ball in the hole, not racking up great stats and that’s exactly what he did this week. If the Memorial was the site of a US Open, I would have expected this result as he finished T10 in 2012 and T3 in 2011 at those events. To say Chappell blows hot and cold is obvious as he began his year T8 at Humana and then missed six of seven cuts before his T6 at Shell Houston. He backed up that finish with a very nice T15 at Valero before finishes of MC, T80, T68 and T54 heading into this week. You were not alone if you didn’t have him on your radar this week.
Kyle Stanley: I guess I should have been on the look-out for past T37 finishers with MCs on their resumes this week! Stanley finished T37 in 2011 and MC last year and also hit the podium like Chappell. The only part of Stanley’s game that wasn’t surprising this week was his T12 in GIR as he’s cashed plenty of checks on the back of his ball-striking. He hits it a mile off the tee and it’s usually his putter that holds him back but that wasn’t the case this week as he was 23rd in strokes gained-putting and T21 in putts per GIR. His talent is abundant and it looks like he’s settled in nicely in 2013 as he’s hit the top 6 (third, T6 and third) three times in his last five starts after a very rocking beginning. Time to pay even more attention!
Scott Stallings: He made a tournament-best 22 birdies, including seven on Sunday as he hit the top 25 for the third time in three starts at Jack’s place. After going out in 40 on Saturday he fired 31 on Sunday to rocket up the leaderboard and finish T4. Stallings is usually known as a resort course master who makes tons of birdies and he reinforced HALF of that statement this week. After missing four cuts in a row, he finished T4 this week after his T4 last week at Colonial. He’s adding tougher courses to his already solid resume and will be a no-brainer here next year. The next step is being consistent over an extending period of time rather than a two or three flier.
Bill Haas: His best finish the last five years at this course was a whopping T31 but you wouldn’t have known that the first 36 holes as he rattled off 11 birdies and an eagle to lead the tournament. His weekend saw him card 76-71 for T4 and his TOUR-leading sixth top 10 finish of 2013. Coming off missed cuts at Wells Fargo and THE PLAYERS, plus a closing 76 on Sunday at RBC Heritage while in contention, Haas didn’t factor in my projections this week. He’s righted the ship.
Russell Henley: Each week in my Range Rover column I keep track of how the best rookie finishes each week and it seems like I’m typing in this man’s name PLENTY in 2013 after his win at Sony. You know this kid is going to be a special player once he plays these events a handful of times but his T6 finish this week gives him three top 10s and five top 25s in 14 events this season. He was second in GIR and T7 in birdies with 18. He’s just a solid, solid young player and will only get better.
Matt Jones: His T6 finish is his best on TOUR since T5 in Puerto Rico last March but this fantasy favorite does just enough each week to keep us guessing. As you’ve heard Rob Bolton mention, the talent is there but the results are still few and far between as he’s only hit the top 10 one time each year after cashing five of those in 2010. His best finish in three tries in Dublin was T64 so go figure. That kind of sums it up right there.
Michael Thompson: After winning The Honda Classic and finishing T8 the following week at Doral, Thompson cooled off considerably as he only had one top 25 in his next seven events (four MCs) before his T8 finish this week. The key to his success this week was three-fold: he was T16 in GIR, 15th in strokes gained-putting and only made nine bogeys and two doubles. One double on Saturday and one bogey on Sunday saw him make his move up push up the ladder. He doesn’t hit it very far but he’s shown at any tournament that has to do with Jack Nicklaus (Honda, Memorial) that he’ll be a factor. He’ll also be a factor, again, at the US Open this year.
Brian Davis: After opening with an uninspiring 75 on Thursday, Davis rallied to play the final three rounds seven-under to chalk up T8 and his second top 10 of the season. Davis began a nice streak of play with his first top 10, T6 in Houston, as he cashed in seven of eight leading into this week. Five of those seven finishes were T32 or better so bravo to any of you who took a calculated risk on him this week. He finished T18 in 2011 and T25 last year so there was an angle to be exploited this week.
Charl Schwartzel: He’s a class player that’s getting very close to busting out and winning but this week will feel disappointing to gamers even though he finished T8. After seven holes on Saturday, he was 10-under and cruising. He hit 35 of 43 greens and was making plenty. In his final 11 holes on Saturday he fired 6 OVER par to knock him too far back to contend for victory. He couldn’t get out of his own way as every time he made birdie or eagle on Sunday, he backed it up with bogey or double. He made 19 birdies on the week but four doubles and nine bogeys essentially wiped that out. His last three events have been very solid and his track history here just keeps getting better.
Pat Perez: After WD last week at Colonial with a nerve problem, Perez wasn’t in my plans for Memorial. I’m not a big believer in jumping back on guys, especially in deep fields, that are coming off an injury less than seven days before a tournament. Perez’s T8 gives him five straight paydays at Jack’s place of T30 or better. There are definitely worse options to fill out a deep draft board here in 2014.
Justin Rose: His T8 ties his worst weekend finish here in his last six starts. I’m going to stop typing now.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Tiger Woods: He made a handful of doubles, a couple of triples and didn’t putt very well so that’s “what happened”. The good news? There isn’t any for fantasy gamers who burned a start on him this week but he did finish the week T5 in fairways hit and that’s something to think about heading to Merion for the US Open.
Lee Westwood: He WD before play resumed on Saturday morning as he didn’t return to finish his second round. As you read on Rotoworld.com, it would have mattered any how if he made birdie-eagle in his final two holes as he was slamming the trunk anyhow. Remember, he hadn’t teed it up here since the early 2000s so maybe he was reminded why!
Adam Scott: His T13 was thanks in part to his 20 birdies that he carded this week. He hit plenty of greens, which isn’t a surprise but he also posted three doubles on the week. Any time he’s in the field, he’s going to be in your line up.
Luke Donald: His T21 is the gaudy result gamers were expecting but it’s another solid finish at the Memorial. This is his fifth start in a row that is T21 or better. Two of those have been in the top 10. He also holed 20 birdies and was T19 in driving accuracy. These are signs of life.
Rory McIlroy: Ah, another week, another “what’s wrong with Rory”? He MC last week at a course he doesn’t play very well so that wasn’t a surprise. Opening with 78 is never any good but I’ll take the positive out and remind you that he did make the cut after his 69 on Friday. I’ll also remind you that he was almost dead last in driving accuracy, strokes gained-putting and putts per GIR. He’s an enigma but a talented one at that. No point in making any absolute statements with all of his game. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Jim Furyk: He’s made 11 of 12 cuts this year and has six top 25s so I can’t tell you he doesn’t have value anymore no matter what Paul H. tells me! His value comes from his bags of experience and his resiliency and I know that’s not always easy to quantify. I’ll take him on a course any day where par is a decent score and 20-under isn’t needed to win. He was second in driving accuracy and T5 in GIR this week. I can live with those numbers heading into Merion.
Webb Simpson: He made 10 bogeys and two doubles in 36 holes to MC. It happens, move on.
Brandt Snedeker: He opened with 43 on the back on Friday after an opening round 72. Leave him for me, I’ll take him!
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