Sunday, June 1, 2003

Bad weather? Then it must be Jack's tourney

Memorial notebook: Blustery conditions affect scoring

By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DUBLIN, Ohio - This is the Memorial Tournament players are used to.

After the first two rounds were played in pleasant conditions, Saturday at Muirfield Village brought the kind of weather - temperatures in the upper 50s, 30 mph winds and on-and-off showers - that has marked this tournament from its inception.

Although the tournament was moved from the third week in May to lighten the burden of Mother Nature, as Jeff Sluman said, it didn't seem to work.

"This is pretty bad for May 31. Don't you think?" he asked. "It's pretty startling to think it could be this cold and windy."

Sluman, who shot even on the day and is currently 2-under, got plenty of wind and cold. But he missed the majority of the wet in the morning. The blustery conditions brought a 45-minute delay just before noon. But here, the presence of rain is as customary as the presence of tournament founder Jack Nicklaus.

There was the virtual typhoon Tom Watson survived to win the 1979 Memorial. Then in another epic performance, Fred Couples won in 1990 despite temperatures in the 50s and winds topping 40 mph. In fact, since its inception in 1976, the Memorial has seen a rain-free four days of competition only nine times. Play has been suspended or pushed back in all but 10 of the 27 years.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Jose Maria Olazabal was thinking bogey when his tee shot on 18 lipped out of a fairway-side bunker and rested an inch from the sand and 160 feet from the green. He came away with birdie, what he called "icing on the cake" of his 6-under 66.

Olazabal's approach came 6 feet from the hole, a shot that playing partner Sluman called the shot of the day. "It was an unbelievable shot. He just started laughing."

MISS OF THE DAY: Tiger Woods hit his tee shot on No. 6 into a backyard, over a temporary out-of-bounds fence. Although many in the gallery saw where it hit, no one could find the ball after it plugged in the wet ground. Woods hit another tee shot and finished the hole with a triple bogey, dropping him to 1-under.

LOCAL TIES: Franklin native Frank Lickliter shot a 9-over-par 81 for a 54-hole total of 9-over 225.

Northern Kentuckian Steve Flesch, who currently sits 11th on the money list, shot a two-round total of 9-over 153 and missed the cut.

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