by Jeff Skinner
As usual the leaderboard at The Memorial Tournament has an intriguing look to it. Chris Riley and Rory McIlroy share the lead at Jack’s place. McIlroy is one of the most popular young golfers in the world and had The Masters won until he succumbed to the final round pressure earlier this year. Riley is a veteran player that has seen better times. He made the Ryder Cup Team in 2004 but will forever be remembered as the player that asked Captain Hal Sutton to sit him out of the Ryder Cup matches for a round. Rickie Fowler is near the top (T5) looking for a bit of redemption from last year’s Memorial where he was in the hunt until a few missteps on Sunday. Fowler has quickly become a crowd favorite and many pick him to win this week. But to me the most intriguing player near the top is Chris DiMarco.
DiMarco is tied for third, one stroke back after a solid 67 at Muirfield Village. DiMarco was a player to be reckoned with a few years ago when he won three tournaments in three years from 2000 to 2002 and made two Ryder Cups (2003, 2005) and two Presidents Cups (2004, 2006). He was known for his “bulldog” attitude and fierce competitiveness on the course.
In the 2005 Masters while Tiger was making the “chip heard ‘round the world” on sixteen, it was DiMarco that took him into a playoff before Woods finally won his fourth Masters. In fact, DiMarco nearly won it on the last hole when his chip rimmed the cup. It could have been the tournament that changed DiMarco’s life. Unfortunately, after a successful 2006 his career took a noticeable slip in 2007 and then the injuries to his shoulder and wrist took his game from him. From 2008 through 2010 he had only two top tens and his earnings dropped from over $1.5 million in 2006 to $409,000 in 2010.
He is in The Memorial on a sponsor’s exemption from his President’s Cup Captain, Mr. Nicklaus and making the most of his opportunity. Feeling healthy once again has allowed him to work on his swing and while he isn’t Ryder Cup material yet he is slowly working his way back into form. His 2011 money total is almost near what he earned all of last year. A good showing here could be just what he needs to springboard him to a good second half of the season.
Maybe we will once again get to see that bulldog that went head to head with Tiger and DiMarco will get a chance to regain the standing that his injuries stole from him.