Just two weeks away from the year’s second major, it’s to be expected that the golf goes from boarder line exhibitional in feel to serious, competition.The PGA Tour’s annual visit to Jack’s place — Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio — for the Memorial did not disappoint.
Whether it was Tiger climbing the leader board, Byrson DeChambeau’s clutch play, Joaquin Niemann playing like a veteran instead of the 19-year-old he is or any of the other dozens of story lines that developed last weekend — there was something for everyone.
By day’s end Sunday, three men stood atop the leader board at 15-under. Bryson DeChambeau, Byeong Hun An and Kyle Stanley all found themselves vying for the chance to rub shoulders with Jack. In the end, it was DeChambeau who was victorious. The win was the second of his PGA Tour career.
While the three aforementioned gentlemen enjoyed their time at the house that Jack built, there were plenty of players whose weeks feel somewhere between their and that of Keith Mitchell — who missed the cut and finished DFL, exactly 30 strokes behind the eventual winner, DeChambeau.
Here’s a look at those who made good on fantasy projections — and those who put owners like you in a bind:
Bryson DeChambeau — If any of us paid as close attention to the details, to trends the way Bryson DeChambeau pays attention to, well, everything, then perhaps we would’ve seen this coming. DeChambeau entered play last week hot. Since falling to Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the wiz kid has been hot. Like, middle of August two-a-days in the Bayou-hot. Already a winner at the 2017 John Deere Classic, it should’ve been easy to see this type of performance coming for DeChambeau. Going forward, he’s to be a trusted fantasy asset.
Kyle Stanley — It’s been a while since Kyle Stanley has been relevant. He did pick up career win No. 2 last year at the Quicken Loans Invitational. but before and since he’s been little more than an also ran. Stanley opened with rounds of 67 and 66 on Thursday and Friday to put himself in serious contention. On the weekend, he was fine — but wasn’t anything special, which probably kept him from career win No. 3. Ultimately, Stanley will continue be a fantasy horse for courses — but you can’t expect much in the way of consistency until he shows some.
Joaquin Niemann — Is there a better young player on the planet than Joaquin Niemann? Maybe — but the fact of the matter is this kid has been a force of nature since turning professional. Sure, he’s missed three cuts — but in the three he’s made he’s picked up two sixth place finishes and a T-8 showing. It seems he’s poised to have a Xander Schauffele-esque ride to notoriety and fantasy players should take serious note — if they haven’t already.
Rory McIlroy — Once again, it seems there was one fly in the ointment for Rory McIlroy that kept him out of the winner’s circle. This time around, it was Thursdays’s first round. McIlroy rallied with rounds of 70-64-69 during the final three rounds, but his opening 74 was enough to essentially derail his chances of winning. I’m a broken record here, but don’t fret — McIlroy will figure it out soon.
Tiger Woods — From the coverage he got and the breaking alerts that got sent to my phone, you’d think Tiger Woods had got in his Delorean and gone back in time to actually play Jack head-to-head and was beating him — not ebbing and flowing up and down the leader board. Woods finally ended up finishing in a tie for 23rd after book-ending rounds of 67 and 68 with 72’s on Thursday and Sunday.
Jordan Spieth — With the U.S. Open and major season coming quickly, fantasy owners would love to see Jordan Spieth start putting things together. Unfortunately, last week in Ohio, he did nothing to instill confidence. Spieth opened with a dismal 75 on Thursday and followed it up with another lackluster round on Friday. Instead of providing the fantasy spark most players were looking for, Spieth, instead, was sent packing early. All this said, no one should be naive enough to think this is going to become a trend.