Memorial Tournament: Lessons from Tiger Woods’ magical win
James Tompkinson looks at some of the talking points after Tiger Woods sealed victory at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio
Tiger Woods roars back into form ahead of the US Open
It may sound like an obvious statement to say that Woods is now back in form after winning in Ohio, but it was the manner of the victory which signalled his intent to return to the summit of world golf. The win was only Woods’ second PGA victory in three seasons, the first coming at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational in March this year, ending a spell of 30 months without a tour win and a period which saw the former world No1 drop to 128th in the PGA money listings. Throughout this time he has looked lost on the golf course, almost swallowed by an inevitable weight of public expectation placed on his shoulders. However, this weekend the crowds in Ohio were treated to Woods at his very best. It appears that his new swing is finally paying dividends, allowing the 36-year-old to relax and play both solid and spectacular golf shots. A score of -9 over four rounds was enough to see Woods home as the new Memorial Tournament champion and reach Jack Nicklaus’ total of 73 PGA tour wins. The entire weekend will have handed Woods a huge confidence boost with the start of the US Open in San Francisco just 10 days away.
Luke Donald holds onto No1 ranking
Although an overall score of -1 for the tournament may not have set the world on fire, it was enough to ensure that Luke Donald will head into the US Open as world No1. Donald has also now notched up 100 weeks in the world top 10 and certainly ranks as one of the most consistent players in the game at the moment. A top-20 finish in Ohio, coupled with his victory at the BMW PGA Championship last month, ensures that the Englishman is in an excellent place heading to California, where he will want to banish past demons and secure an elusive first Major win and his place as a great of the game. Questions remain about whether Donald has both the flair and mental temperament to triumph in a Major championship, but what can be said is that he is unlikely ever to be in better form than he is heading into this year’s US Open.
Rory McIlroy falters again ahead of US Open
Last year, Rory McIlroy recovered from his Masters heartache to win the US Open at Congressional and announce himself as the new kid on the golfing block. However, having lost his world No1 ranking to Donald last month, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman has failed to make three successive cuts, including two poor first rounds in Ohio this weekend. It would be unfair to start picking holes in McIlroy’s technique because he is still in his infancy and has many years to fine-tune his swing. The key for McIlroy is his mental state. He is probably the most naturally gifted golfer in the game today, but youth also brings naivety and we have seen this week that McIlroy has not reacted positively to losing his No1 ranking. Whether he will come back and perform well in San Francisco to retain his US Open title remains to be seen, but the signs do not look promising.
Woods produces one of the greatest shots of all time
The win in Ohio was truly ‘Woods-esque’, characterised by a defining moment in the final round on the 16th green. A wayward approach shot had left Woods skulking in the rough on the far side of the green, faced with a chip down an electrically fast slope with water situated past the hole. To stop the ball dead would have required a pitch to land just short of the green in order to allow the ball to trickle down the slope towards the hole. However, the rough was too long to make this shot work, leaving Woods facing the impossible. What he produced was a miracle. Using a high lob wedge, the new Memorial champion produced the perfect pitch which ran down the slope and into the hole.