The Norman Transcript

Sports

June 4, 2014

Winning by being the best at not losing

DUBLIN, Ohio — It was hard to read the eyes of Jack Nicklaus behind his sunglasses, and maybe that was a good thing. He was in his customary spot behind the 18th green at Muirfield Village as he waited to see who would win the Memorial.

Or who would do the best job of not losing.

It’s rare to get such beautiful weather over four days at the Memorial. An ugly finish? That has become all too common this year.

The Sunday follies of so many top players — most of them major champions — stand out even more in the absence of Tiger Woods, who is recovering from back surgery that has kept him away from golf for the last three months.

Without Woods around, all anyone has are memories, particularly around a place like Muirfield Village. He won his fifth Memorial title two years ago with three birdies on the last four holes. One year he was in a battle with Paul Azinger, tied for the lead early in the final round. Woods ended up winning by seven.

Over the last four months, a list that includes major champions Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson has shown that it’s either hard to win on the PGA Tour or that Woods was really, really good at it.

Probably a little of both.

“We’ve seen a lot of things happen,” Scott said on the eve of the final round, perhaps a pep talk that his three-shot deficit to Watson going into Sunday was not that large. “It’s not a lot when we’ve seen a lot of leads go the wrong way recently.”

That was rare with Woods, of course.

He went nearly 15 years before losing a lead greater than two shots going into the final round.

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