|Tiger Woods celebrates after chipping in for birdie on the par-3 16th hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. It was Tiger's second win of the year.
We got a vintage Tiger moment with his chip-in on the 16th hole and with his win at the Memorial, we’re back to where we were two months ago, with Tiger Woods coming off a win directly into a major to the delight of the PGA Tour, oddsmakers, TV execs and the T-Nation.
Does that automatically make Woods, who won’t play this week in Memphis, the favourite to win the U.S. Open two weeks hence in San Francisco, just as he was going into Augusta? Hey, it’s your money.
Will the Tiger at Muirfield Village show up or will it be somebody else? Will it be a world-beater or a club-beater, the ferocious or frustrated Tiger? They’re legitimate questions to ask after the Augusta experience.
The only thing we definitely know right now is that Woods is a contender, but not the clear-cut favourite. Before I get branded a Tiger-hater for saying that, I see a lot of contenders, but nobody’s standing out.
Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champ, has a win and a couple of runner-up finishes, including the Players Championship, so he’s a possibility as is world No. 1 Luke Donald, who won his second straight BMW PGA Championship in Europe and shot a final round 68 on Sunday.
Phil Mickelson has shown flashes of classic Phil, most notably his dominating win at Pebble Beach and five top-10s until he started whimpering after a brutal 79 and withdrew on Thursday.
We’ll get into that in a minute.
Rory McIlroy, who will play this week in Memphis, pulled no such stunt even though he missed his third consecutive cut at the Memorial. We’ll see how he does this week, but there will be a lot of eyes on him as the defending champion once he hits San Francisco.
Jason Dufner has added credibility to his name being included in the list of contenders after two wins and a runner-up finish in his past four events, but he faltered in the final round at Colonial and we won’t see him until the Open gets underway.
The memory of Bubba Watson’s shot out of the trees at the Masters is still fresh in people’s minds, but he’s only played two tour events since then, including a missed cut at the Memorial. All due respect to his creativity and talent, he’s an enigma coming to the Olympic Club.
Rickie Fowler has his first tour win, a T2 finish with Johnson at the Players Championship and a total of five top-10s this year, but he shot a final round 84 at the Memorial.
So Tiger is a name among many, but not the one that stands out. Only winning his first major in four years will separate him from the crowd, but that’s far from a sure thing.
HAD HIS PHIL AT MEMORIAL
A little smile, a seemingly heartfelt apology and Mickelson walks away unscathed when he should be roasted for withdrawing after that nasty 79 on Thursday. Why commit in the first place if he’s so focused on the U.S. Open? If he’s such a “big picture” guy, why didn’t he see this alleged mental fatigue coming before the Memorial? Here’s the deal: He was playing like crap, he saw rain coming on Friday and there was no money to be made. You expect more from a guy just put into the World Golf Hall of Fame ... Stacy Lewis, who won by four shots at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on the weekend was diagnosed with scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) at age 11 and had surgery at the age of 18. “It’s kind of hard to believe that you can attach a rod and screws to your spine and still rotate and turn and hit a golf ball,” said Lewis, who will be in Waterloo for the inaugural Manulife LPGA Classic later this month. “I went into surgery thinking I wasn’t going to play again and so, every day that I do, it’s a blessing and I feel really lucky.”
GIVING BEEZER THE Bizz
Calgary’s Stephen Ames, former U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and 2010 RBC Canadian Open winner Carl Pettersson will round out the field at the 2012 Telus World Skins Game, to be played July 30-31 at Glen Arbour Golf Course in Halifax. They join Paul Casey and Jhonattan Vegas in the field ... Colleague Steve Buffery makes an annual tradition of insisting he doesn’t like pointing out that the PGA Tour career of Mike Weir is over and this year’s version came last week. “I would love to eat my words. In fact, if Weir ever does win another PGA tournament, I will eat this column and wash it down with a bottle of Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc,” wrote Beezer about Weir, who missed his eighth consecutive cut with an 18-over score at the Memorial. In one of his previous contributions, Beezer said the focus should be taken off Weir and put on up-and-comers Nick Taylor, Matt Hill and Adam Hadwin. Yet, the three columns he’s written about Weir would have been equal to one each on Taylor, Hill and Hadwin by Beez, whose normal wine choice, something in a nice paper bag, would be best suited for a newspaper entree. Just saying.