June 18th, 2024

Scheffler holds on to win Memorial for 5th PGA Tour title of the year


By Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press on June 9, 2024.

Scottie Scheffler reacts after missing a putt on the second green during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament, Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) – Scottie Scheffler had more stress than he wanted Sunday at the Memorial and got the victory everyone has come to expect.

On a Muirfield Village course so demanding only six players broke par, Scheffler had his highest final round in nearly two years at 2-over 74, and it was just enough to hold off Collin Morikawa and win for the fifth time this year.

Scheffler, who started the final round four shots ahead, never lost the lead. He never felt safe, either, particularly on a back nine where saving par felt like hard work.

That’s what it took on the 18th hole. He was leading Morikawa by one shot and both hit approach shots that bounced hard and high off the green and into the rough. Both chipped to about five feet. Scheffler buried his putt to win, and the force of his fist pump to celebrate showed how tough this day was on him, and practically everybody.

Making the day even more special was the handshake with tournament host Jack Nicklaus, and cradling month-old son Bennett at his first PGA Tour event.

“This is a tough place to close out,” Scheffler said. “It was a fun test of golf. I like when it gets this hard. I didn’t do a whole lot great today, but I did enough.”

Just barely.

Morikawa, who played in the final group of both majors this year, holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th hole and stayed on Scheffler’s heels the rest of the way. He shot 71, the only one from the final 13 groups to break par.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., was right there with them until closing with three straight bogeys for a 74 to finish alone in third.

Scheffler finished at 8-under 280 and won $4 million from this signature event and its $20 million purse. That pushes him over $24 million for the year, breaking the PGA Tour season earnings record – and it’s barely June – that he set last year in this era of rising purses.

He also becomes the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to have won five times on the PGA Tour before the U.S. Open.

That’s next week at Pinehurst No. 2, and Scheffler will go to the U.S. Open as a huge favourite. This was his 11th consecutive tournament with a top 10.

Morikawa picked up $2.2 million and now has a big cushion as he tries to sew up the fourth spot for the Americans going to Paris this summer for the Olympics.

Hadwin was within one shot of the lead until finishing the front nine with a pair of bogeys. He stayed in the hunt until closing with a pair of bogeys for a 74. Still, his third-place finish moves him ahead of Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., for the second Canadian spot in the Olympics.

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford finished tied for 27th on Sunday at 5 over. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., finished tied for 33rd at 6 over.

The world ranking after the U.S. Open determines who goes to Paris.

Scheffler had only one birdie – a 10-foot putt on the sixth hole – and he missed two birdie chances inside 10 feet on the back nine that could have provided a cushion.

But he made the biggest one on the par-3 16th.

Scheffler and Morikawa were both short of the super slick green some 90 feet away. Scheffler used putter and hit it weakly, coming up 15 feet short. Morikawa chipped from the collar and also hit a pedestrian chip some 20 feet short.

Morikawa missed his par putt, and Scheffler buried his for a two-shot lead.

Scheffler dropped his final shot on the 17th, however, and he was clinging again to a one-shot lead playing the tough 18th that he ended with one last putt.

Next up is the so-called toughest test in golf, and players felt like they just got finished with one at Muirfield Village.

“You could look at it one of two ways,” Hadwin said. “Either it’s good prep for next week or we just got our butts kicked before going into next week.”

For Scheffler it’s another victory, his 11th of his career and 12th worldwide. He has finished strong to win big or come from behind. He has pulled away when it was tight at the start. This time, he nearly lost a four-shot lead.

It was his highest closing round since a 74 in the British Open at St. Andrews in 2022. But it goes in the book as another big win against the strongest fields. He now has won three signature events (Bay Hill and Hilton Head were the others) to go along with The Players Championship and his second green jacket at the Masters.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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