William McGirt defeated Jon Curran at the second extra hole to secure his first PGA Tour title in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio
William McGirt defeated Jon Curran at the second extra hole to secure his first PGA Tour title in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
The 36-year-old has been a PGA Tour member since 2010, but, despite coming close on a couple of occasions, had never previously managed to get over the line.
McGirt entered the weather-affected final round in a three-way tie for the lead, but with the likes of 2013 Champion Matt Kuchar, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson in the mix, his chances looked slim.
He compiled a nerveless bogey-free round of 71, though, including a testing five-footer on the 72nd green to force a play-off with Curran.
McGirt played a brilliant bunker shot on the first extra hole, the 18th, when Curran looked odds on to take the title having hit his approach to 25ft, and produced a sublime up and down from over the back at the second time of asking to secure his maiden title.
“It was a struggle all day but to get your first win is pretty special,” said McGirt. “It will sink in at some point. I don’t know when.”
Four talking points from the Memorial Tournament
1) Magical McGirt
William McGirt had played in 164 career PGA Tour events without registering a victory, but his fortunes changed on Sunday at Muirfield Village. Starting the final round in a tie for the lead, McGirt – who played no fewer than seven mini circuits on his way to the PGA Tour – showed impressive grit in posting a one-under-par 71. The Carolinan, who Tiger Woods famously called an ‘idiot’ after he found out about McGirt’s decision not to look at leaderboard when in contention at the 2012 Canadian Open, then showed brilliant short-game skills to close out 29-year-old Curran. He now has a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour, plus invites to the US Open at Oakmont, the USPGA at Baltusrol and next year’s Masters at Augusta National.
2) Disappointment for Dustin
It was another close-but-no-cigar tournament for Dustin Johnson, who has the longest active year-on-year winning streak of all PGA Tour members. He started with a fine eight-under-par 64, but once again struggled to make a mark on Sunday. He birdied three of his first seven holes to turn in 33, but dropped three shots in four holes from the turn. Unfortunately, a closing birdie wasn’t enough to secure a play-off berth for a man who’s recorded four top-five finishes in his last six events. Concerningly, Johnson’s scoring-average rank from rounds one to four is as follows: 1st, 2nd, 57th, 104th.
3) Encouragement for Rory
Rory McIlroy found some much-needed form on the greens as he bids to lift his second US Open trophy in two weeks. The Irish Open champion compiled a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for fourth on 13-under-par. This season, McIlroy ranks 65th in Strokes Gained: Putting, but he was comfortably inside the top ten at Muirfield Village. That bodes well for his chances at Oakmont, with his long game in excellent shape. Indeed, he’s currently first in the PGA Tour’s new Strokes Gained: off-the-tee rankings and third in Strokes Gained: tee-to-green.
Related: Rory McIlroy swing sequence
4) Consistent Reed
If you’re looking for a form player heading into the US Open under the radar, I’d suggest Patrick Reed. The American has been in excellent form all season, and he produced a final-round 68 at The Memorial to register another top ten – his tenth of the season and the most on the PGA Tour. He currently ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: tee-to-green and first in Strokes Gained: around-the-green – a pretty deadly combination.