DUBLIN, Ohio – In the 38 previous editions of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, it was a right-handed golfer that prevailed.
After three rounds this year it is two lefties, Bubba Watson and Scott Langley, who are in the lead. What was a three-shot deficit is now a one-shot lead for Watson after three rounds of play at Muirfield Village.
“If I shoot in the 60s and somebody beats me, then obviously they just played better than me that day,” Watson said. “I think in the 60s is a good round of golf.”
It was an eventful front nine for Watson who birdied holes 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 while recording bogey on hole 5.
Watson’s best ever finish in this event is a tie for 23rd and improving on that is almost assured. He also has taken a lot of pressure off himself having won twice on the PGA Tour this season.
“I think when you first win, you think you’re a hero,” said Watson. “You put more pressure on yourself to be great, I guess you’d say. Now I realize I’m not very good, I’m not very great. So there’s less pressure. I’m not anxious going to the next tournament and trying to be No. 1 in the world, not trying to be the next great champion. I’m just trying to play golf.”
The round ended with a bit of controversy as Watson hit a shot on the 18th hole from the fringe and appeared the ball moved on his fourth shot. By rule this would have been a shot penalty, however when he went in to confirm his score, Watson, playing partner Paul Casey and the caddies were confused that the topic was even up for discussion. No penalty was assessed.
Langley’s round was a clean 5-under-par 67 to get to 11 under for the tournament and one stroke behind. Langley did not record a bogey, extending his streak to 41 holes without a blemish on the scorecard.
“I felt better about my game this year than I did even last year, that’s the way golf is though,” Langley said. “I didn’t play great at Colonial last week but I felt like I had a really good final round, so maybe a little bit of that momentum kind of pushed me into this week.”
Four of Langley’s five birdies came on the back nine and set up a final round last group lefty pairing which will tee off at 1:45 p.m.
Hideki Matsuyama is two strokes back at 10 under and world No. 1 Adam Scott is an additional stroke back. Play Sunday will start at 8 a.m.
Phil Mickelson denies any wrongdoing
Following the second round of play, it was reported that Mickelson was seen talked and cooperating with FBI agents after being investigated for possible insider trading. The story was first reported by Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
Mickelson was not accused wrongdoing and released a statement before his third round started stating that he did not do anything wrong and is happy to cooperate with the FBI agents until the problem is resolved.
Mickelson met with the media following the conclusion of his round and many of the questions were directed to this issue. Mickelson answered similarly to his statement and said that he could not talk too much about it.
As for his play, Mickelson finds himself at 2 under par and will look to build momentum towards the U.S. Open.
“The fairways are playing tighter than they have because they’re firm and the ball’s running and I’ve hit a lot of fairways,” Mickelson said. “I’m actually counting out there because it’s going to be a big factor for the Open. I believe I’ve averaged 10 or 11 fairways a day. That’s a big step for me because I’ve been hitting drivers a lot.”
Fairways the key to success for Schwartzel
Charl Schwartzel came into the day as one of 13 players that started at 3 under and his round got off to tough start. He recorded a bogey on the first hole after he barely advanced the ball out of the bunker and after a birdie on the second hole, lipped out of the third hole after bringing the ball in close. Schwartzel birdied holes five through seven that allowed for a 3-under front nine.
“The course isn’t playing as long as it normally does,” said Schwartzel. “I was hitting it pretty good and gave myself a lot of chances, I just happened to make a few on that stretch.”
Schwartzel recorded two additional birdies on holes 11 and 12 but had a bogey on the par five 15th hole. He would birdie 16 to shoot 34 on the back nine.
Ben Martin goes low
The best moving day round of the early tee times belonged to 2013 Web.com Tour graduate Ben Martin. Martin won the 2013 Mylan Classic in Washington, Pa.
His seven under par 65 was a tournament best as well as bogey free. Martin birdied holes 10 through 13 but credits a hole on the front nine for allowing the string of birdies to occur.
“I felt like the front nine I could have birdied almost every hole,” Martin said. “When I rolled the birdie putt on eight, I think that gave me a little confidence with the putter.”
Martin had 28 total putts however once he made the putt on 8, he had 12 total putts on the back nine.
Bo Van Pelt and Luke Guthrie also had early tee times and climbed up the leader board reaching 6 under on their rounds after also starting the day at even par. 2012 Mylan Classic champion Robert Streb shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 9 under.
He said it:
“There actually were a couple of Sunday pins I thought they were going to do tomorrow and they did them today, so those got out of the way. There will be some score-able holes and there will be holes where you really need to take your medicine on tomorrow.” – Jordan Spieth
Chris Dazen contributed to this article