Charl Schwartzel made sure one hole didn’t ruin an entire round Thursday in the Memorial.
Schwartzel hit the ball so consistently well at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, that the former Masters champion twice had stretches of four straight birdies. When he made a double bogey with an 8-iron in hand and his ball on a tee toward the end of the round, he got rid of that bad taste with one last birdie for a 7-under-par 65.
Schwartzel had a one-shot lead over Scott Piercy, who went from smashing it to playing it safe, and he was six shots clear of five-time winner Tiger Woods.
Woods hit the ball well enough to be much closer, though he missed too many birdie chances and didn’t make up any ground on the par 5s.
“That’s probably the highest score I could have shot,” Woods said after his 1-under 71.
Woods was one shot worse than 53-year-old Fred Couples, the Presidents Cup captain at Muirfield Village this fall, and one shot better than 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, who has played more PGA Tour events than Woods over the last two months.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, might be headed for another short week at the tournament Jack Nicklaus built. After opening with a birdie, McIlroy didn’t putt nearly well enough to atone for some loose shots.
McIlroy four-putted the par-3 12th for a double bogey, had a three-putt bogey on No. 7 and ended his round by missing a 4-foot birdie putt. That gave him a 78
“I don’t really have many explanations for this,” McIlroy said.
California’s Max Homa shot a 4-under 66 to win the individual title at the NCAA golf championship in Milton, Ga., and his play carried the Bears to the top seed heading into team match play.
The Bears’ senior leader birdied three of the first five holes, surging past second-round leader Jon Rahm of Arizona State, and didn’t make a bogey on the Capital City Club’s Crabapple course north of Atlanta.
Homa won the title by three strokes.
The nation’s top-ranked team, the Bears lived up to their billing with a 16-under total. Host Georgia Tech was six strokes back as the top eight teams advanced to match play beginning today.
In his final round with the Huskies, Washington’s Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho, shot a 68 to finish at 210, good for a tie for 32nd place. The Huskies were 16th as a team and did not advance to match play.
Two-time champion Retief Goosen has withdrawn from the U.S. Open because of a back injury. The 44-year-old South African player, the tournament winner in 2001 and 2004, pulled out because of the injury that also forced him to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players Championship. Goosen’s spot in the June 13-16 event will be added to the qualifying positions available at the 11 sectional qualifying sites Monday. … Suzy Whaley, who made headlines when she played in a PGA Tour event a decade ago, has signed on to help coach Quinnipiac University’s women’s golf team. Whaley will be a volunteer coach during the 2013-14 season. Whaley played in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open after winning the Connecticut PGA Section Championship, becoming the first woman to win a PGA section title.