5 Things: Bubba's rise; Rory's rebound; more
DUBLIN, Ohio – Bubba Watson is looking for his third win of the 2014 season and if he gets it the venues will include Riviera, Augusta National and Muirfield Village. Not a bad threesome.
If there is a key for Watson on Sunday, it will be the par 5s – where the Masters Champion is 11-under despite a bogey on the par-5 11th hole Saturday. Quick math shows Watson 1 under in three passes at the rest of the course this week.
For the conspiracy theorists who watched the broadcast, on the 18th hole Watson used a fairway wood for a chip on his fourth shot; during address Watson seemed to touch the ball with his club, but the ball didn’t move out of position.
Under Rule 18-2 it’s permissible to touch a ball at address as long as the ball doesn’t move out of position, which did not happen in this case. No harm no foul.
So at 1:45 Sunday afternoon, Watson and Scott Langley will tee it up in the final group with Watson trying to take one more step toward player of the year and Langley trying to win his first event on the PGA Tour.
Here are 5 Things to know from the Memorial:
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1. SATURDAY'S OTHER LEFTY: Scott Langley shot a bogey-free 67 on moving day, jumping from a tie for sixth to Sunday's final group with fellow left-hander Watson.
Playing in only his second year as a full time member of the PGA Tour, Langley has had few moments starting in the final group. The first was at the Sony Open last year, his first week on the PGA Tour after earning his card at Q-School.
Langley didn’t handle the limelight as well as he would have liked and finished T-3 that week with a final-round 70. He went on to struggle the remainder of the 2013 season.
The 2014 season didn’t start much better until Langley got to Tampa and the Valspar Championship, finishing solo third with a final-round 70.
“I was playing great but I was kind of eager to see the result a little bit, to be quite honest,” Langley said of what he did wrong in the final round at Sony. “I think that's human nature a little bit.”
At Tampa, Langley worked on staying in the moment and going through his routine. The result was more to his liking and he considers it a building block for Sunday’s final round.
“I just hope to use that again tomorrow,” Langley said of what he did in Tampa. “Really trying to stay in the moment and take my time and just when I look back, know that I processed everything really well and gave my best effort regardless of the outcome.”
It has been an impressive initial appearance at Muirfield Village for Langley with four bogeys in the first round and none since, but matched with 1 eagle and 13 birdies.
“I look back to my college days,” Langley said. “Coach (Mike) Small (University of Illinois) really taught me how to learn a golf course somewhat quickly. We played a lot of golf courses like this one in college – tough, demanding. Have to control your ball, have to play to a certain side of the flag, you can't just fire at every pin.”
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2. FINALLY GOING IN RIGHT DIRECTION: Bo Van Pelt's T-14 last week at Colonial was his best finish since the Wells Fargo Championship last May.
And while Van Pelt just made the cut on the number after a bogey-double bogey finish Friday, the Oklahoma State product knew his game was going in the right direction after last week.
Early Saturday morning Van Pelt made six birdies over the front nine and cruised to a 6-under 66 while moving up from T-64 to T-13.
“I felt like I played well the first two days, just made a couple silly mistakes to only get in at even,” Van Pelt said. “Just got off to a good start. On the back nine I played well, just missed a couple opportunities and made a silly bogey on 14 and had 4‑iron into 15 and didn't make birdie.”
Van Pelt’s struggles have been long term and started at the beginning of the 2013 season. For most of last year and the beginning of this year, Van Pelt has battled his swing and his game.
“I think I had gotten into some bad swing habits that just kept creeping in,” Van Pelt said of why he initially struggled. “Finally felt like I got those corrected, and I think mentally I was frustrated all last year with how I was playing. If I could do it all over again I probably would have taken more time off at the start of last year.”
Van Pelt is six shots off the lead of Watson, but feels that his game is ready to give him a chance to win.
“It has been a while, but I like this golf course, and I just want to keep trying to play solid,” Van Pelt said. “It's nice to finally string a bunch of good shots together like I have the past couple weeks, and so I just want to keep doing that. I love playing this place.”
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3. STILL NOT 100 PERCENT: Rory McIlroy has gone from 63 in Thursday’s first round to 78 in Friday’s second round to a 3-under 69 in Saturday’s third round.
“It was important,” McIlroy said of bouncing back from Friday. “I didn't want to shoot two bad rounds in a row. So I was happy to shoot something in the 60s today and try and do something a little better tomorrow again.”
McIlroy finds himself six shots of Watson's lead with 13 players in front of him.
The real change came on the back nine, where McIlroy had shot 43 on Friday – he finished Saturday's round with a 4-under 32 on the strength of an eagle and two consecutive birdies down the stretch.
“Finished with three 3s, which I think a few guys out there will take this afternoon.” McIlroy said. “So really happy with the finish and not quite in the mix or in contention. But I'm pretty close. And another good score tomorrow, see how it goes.”
The Ulsterman also confirmed that the left knee feels okay, but not 100 percent.
“It's better than it was on Thursday,” McIlroy said. “So it's a good positive sign.”
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4. I'M CLOSE: Jordan Spieth is in contention again. With a 5-under 67 in Saturday’s third round, the 20-year-old Spieth has found himself in the mix at the Memorial.
Spieth has recorded six top-10 finishes in 2014 that included a T-2 at the Masters and a T-4 at the Players Championship.
Now with seven birdies and just two bogeys Saturday, Spieth has recorded his 24th round in the 60s in 2014.
“It's moving day, and this golf course, if you're striking the ball well, you can actually make quite a few birdies out here,” Spieth said. “If you're not, it will go the other way quickly. “
Four shots back of Watson, Spieth is playing in his fourth consecutive event. Beginning with the Players, Spieth has been working on getting his game ready for two weeks at Pinehurst.
“I'm actually working on this week some very similar things I was working on Augusta week,” Spieth said. “It's not quite where I have full control over my long clubs, my driver and 3‑wood, working the ball both directions. And I think it's great timing leading up to the U.S. Open. And if tomorrow is a solid round off the tee, then I've got a chance to win this golf tournament. “
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5. SHORT SHOTS: World No. 1 Adam Scott shot a 4-under 68 and moved into contention even with a bogey at the last. … Second-round leader Paul Casey struggled to a 4-over 76 and is T-5, four shots behind Watson. … Ben Martin had the best round of the day with a 7-under 65. … J.B. Holmes started his Memorial with a first-round 67, then a 3-over 75 Friday; Saturday he rose to a 9-over 81. … The par-3 16th hole was the hardest in the third round at 3.395, while the par-5 15th hole was the easiest at 4.513.