by G. Rennie
The first weekend in June is always a special time since the Memorial Tournament concludes on the Sunday. The Muirfield Village track that Jack built always draws a great field and the quality of the course is typically validated by the elite status of the champions it produces. That nearly got turned on its head Sunday as Spencer Levin, the 54 hole leader, took that lead, shaky as it might have been, into the back nine.
Levin is a twenty something who has the haggard look of a man much older, with wispy stubble, and his quick, furtive movements make him look like he’s expecting bad news soon. He’s got an inventive swing, that doesn’t repeat as often as he’d like which leads him to make mid swing adjustments more similar, at times, to weekend hackers rather than a PGA Touring pro. You’ve got to love a guy (or at least cheer for him) who’s stepping through a shot here, or saving a shot with a big turn left there, with a big breaking arm fold who’s cupping a cigarette every chance he gets. His putting was superb all week however and he kept draining tough par savers that made you think he just might scrape this win out. An opening 35 was good for a two stroke lead at the turn but it didn’t hold up for long with a bogey 5 on number 10 and three more dropped shots through 12 and 13. When 15 didn’t get him a birdie the story was over as the eventual champ, one Mr. E. Woods, had just birdied both 15 and 16.
Levin admitted to jitters before the round and we all knew he was fighting demons given his history on tour, especially this season when he brought a 6 stroke lead into Sunday at the that Super Bowl pre-game entertainment called the Waste Management Open. He couldn’t close the deal convincingly as he wished then or even hold on and I thought he must be desperate as he found himself in a replay of that lost lead in Phoenix. Spencer is the Hunter Thompson of the PGA Tour (without the drugs and craziness). He has the demeanor of an outsider and the persona of an anti-hero, going his own road, doing it his way. Let’s hope he keeps after it, keeps getting into contention and finally gets that maiden victory soon.
Following on the Hunter Thompson theme, there was Fear and Loathing at Muirfield Village Golf Club today but it didn’t revolve around Spencer Levin. Tiger Woods was back in the spotlight and where Tiger goes fear and loathing follow. But that’s another story altogether.