In the Memorial Day edition of the PGW Rundown, a rib flare-up means no Rory at Muirfield Village, a tour veteran leaves a back surgery in much worse condition than he went in, Jon Rahm reaches another career milestone, and Gary Player takes issue with the Champions Tour record books.
Rahm Reaches Top 10 in OWGR
Jon Rahm, the 22-year-old Spanish phenom, has been incredible in his first full year on the PGA Tour.
Making the cut in all 14 events he has entered this season, Rahm has one victory (Farmers Insurance Open), and SIX top-five finishes.
After another successful week at a tournament he had never played before, a T2 finish at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, Rahm added another accomplishment to his impressive resume: reaching the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
- Jon Rahm’s runner-up finish at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational raised him to World No. 9, his first time being ranked inside the top 10.
- At 22 years old, Rahm is the fifth youngest to reach the top 10 in OWGR history. The only players to do it faster were Sergio Garcia (20), Rory McIlroy (20), Jordan Spieth (21), and Tiger Woods (21).
- It is also worth noting that Rahm turned professional later (at 21) than all four of those guys.
- Rahm is No. 9, despite having only 24 events count toward his rankings. The next player with fewer than 30 events is #85 Steve Stricker (27).
- Rham began 2017 ranked #137, a jump of 128 spots. The only other player inside the top 40 who was outside the top 100 to start the year is No. 39 Wesley Bryan.
“Gave myself another chance. Like I keep saying, 22-year-old, first year on tour, I’m not supposed to have this many options to win. Hopefully I can get another one before the year is over.”
McIlroy Withdraws From The Memorial
A big name will be missing from the stacked field at Muirfield Village for this week’s Memorial Tournament.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy announced on Friday that he has withdrawn from the popular Central Ohio event, citing a recurrence of rib pain from an injury he suffered earlier this year.
McIlroy had an MRI after feeling pain at THE PLAYERS Championship, which showed a mild response to the hairline rib fracture that caused him to miss time in January and February.
- The Memorial was set to be Rory’s final PGA Tour start before next month’s U.S. Open. He will now go into Erin Hills, the site of this year’s second major, with his last outing being a T35 at THE PLAYERS.
- McIlroy has a strong history at The Memorial, with three top 10s in six tries, including a T4 last year.
- McIlroy has played just six PGA Tour events this season, with four top 10s. His best finish was a T4 at both the WGC-HSBC Champions in October and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
- The Memorial will mark the fifth 2017 tournament that Rory will be forced to quit after originally being committed.
“It’s disappointing to miss the Memorial Tournament. This tournament attracts such a stellar field, and I was excited to try and better my fourth-place finish from last year. The Memorial Tournament is one of the best tour stops of the year and I hope everyone involved has a great week.”
Jeff Overton Improving After “Life-Threatening” Spine Infection
PGA Tour pro Jeff Overton recently had surgery to mollify back pain from a herniated disk. After the surgery led to a dangerous spine infection, Overton is now in much worse shape than he was coming in.
Over the weekend, his wife Christina posted an update, acknowledging the condition, but stating that he has improved from the infection that was considered “life-threatening.”
- Jeff Overton had back surgery earlier this year to relieve pain that had been keeping him away from competitive golf. The “minimally invasive” procedure led to a serious spine infection.
- According to Overton’s wife, Jeff has been in significant pain since the onset of the infection. He spent a month in the hospital and has needed two months of IV antibiotics.
- Christina Overton also reported that while the recovery has been extremely difficult, they are “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
- Overton has played just one event in 2017, missing the cut at The Honda Classic in February. In 2010, Overton earned $3.5 million and played his way onto the American Ryder Cup team.
“Today, we are celebrating his health and life. I’ve learned that life is precious and health is something we take for granted. I’ve also learned how to make a chair very, VERY comfortable.”
–Christina Overton on a Facebook post written on Sunday, Jeff’s 34th birthday
Gary Player Questions Validity of Champions Tour Majors Record
Bernhard Langer’s unbelievable Champions Tour run had another highlight on Sunday. The 59-year-old won the Senior PGA Championship for his ninth career major, which broke a tie with Jack Nicklaus for the most major victories in Champions Tour history.
Gary Player, however, believes that he and Langer should share the record, rather than Langer having it outright. Player is credited for having six Champions Tour major championship, but he also had three wins at the Senior Open Championship, which was not considered a major at the time, but is now.
- Bernhard Langer’s final round 68 at the Senior PGA Championship won him the major title. At -18, Langer finished one stroke ahead of Vijay Singh.
- Langer’s unbelievable Senior Tour resume has included 32 wins and nine majors. He has finished first on the Champions Tour money list in each of the past three seasons.
- 82-year-old Gary Player contends that he and Langer should be co-record holders. He won the Senior Open Championship in 1988, 1990, and 1997, but the tournament was not considered to be a major at the time, although it is now.
- Player believes that since the Senior Open Championship was retroactively given major status, that those who won before its reclassification as a major, should be considered major champions.
- Langer’s attempt at a 10th major will at the U.S. Senior Open in late June.
“I remember Arnold Palmer using his word, telling me it was ‘bull****’ that the Senior Open Championship wasn’t a major. He so regretted not winning the championship when he was playing senior golf, because playing on an old links where golf began was very special for him. I wonder, what would the status of the championship be if Arnold had won it three times?”
Grace, McGinley Bury Hatchet After Rules Controversy
Former player and current European Tour analyst Paul McGinley had some harsh words at the BMW PGA Championship after Branden Grace was given a free drop when his feet hit the rubber lining of the bunker.
McGinley called the ruling “ridiculous” and inferred that Grace unfairly twisted his feet extra aggressively to reach the rubber lining. The situation seemed to make Grace uneasy, but according to the 28-year-old South African, McGinley later reached out to him to say that the complaint was not personal, and the two have made up.
- Grace seemed to agree that the free drop was a significant advantage, but noted several times that according to the rule, he had done nothing wrong.
- The drop was approved by a rules official, and Grace took the stance that those who disagree should be upset with the rule, and not Grace himself.
- In addition to McGinley, Danny Willett also publicly complained about the ruling via Twitter.
- According to Grace, McGinley reached out to him the next morning to say that he had nothing personal against him, but rather just disagreed with the ruling.
- Grace said that he received support from fellow European Tour member Peter Hanson, who was unaware of the rule, but suggested that he is likely to get a ruling the next time he is in that position.
- Grace finished the European Tour’s flagship event in a tie for ninth place.
“I actually received a message from Paul this morning saying he’s got nothing against me at all. He didn’t criticize me for taking a drop, he just doesn’t agree with the ruling. That was nice to hear from him. That made looking over the situation a little bit easier.”
Former LPGA No. 1 Miyazato Announces Retirement
The LPGA will soon be saying goodbye to a former great. Ai Miyazoto, a 31-year-old from Japan announced that this current season will be her last.
Miyazoto was ranked No. 1 in the world as recently as 2010, although her career has fallen well off that torrid early start.
- While Miyazato has 25 professional victories between the U.S. and Asia, she has never won a major, something she was often criticized for in the LPGA.
- Miyazato’s last LPGA victory came at the 2012 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
- The reason Miyazato gave for the decision to retire was a “lack of motivation,” which she says has been a struggle over the past five years.
- Miyazato exploded onto the LPGA scene when she won the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2005 by a staggering 12 strokes.
- Currently ranked 114th in the world, Miyazato has played in just five events this season, mixing three missed cuts with finishes of T35 and T50.
“Being a professional is all about results and lately I wasn’t able to achieve good results.”