Ryan Palmer knew he had to change something.
After struggling with his putting while shooting an 81 in the second round of last week’s Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village to miss the cut badly, Palmer was receptive to an idea by his caddie, James Edmondson.
Palmer, 43, had used an Odyssey Rossie II putter since his college days, and Edmondson suggested he give it another try.
Palmer took his advice, and it’s paying off at the Memorial Tournament. Palmer followed his opening-round 67 with a 68 to tie for the lead at 9 under with Tony Finau midway through the second round.
The old putter, which he stopped using about five years ago, certainly agrees with him.
“The feel, the weight of it, the way it swings,” Palmer said. “It’s something I used for 15 years on tour. Just a great feeling coming back (to it).”
Putting isn’t the only part of his game that’s improved from last week. After missing the cut, Palmer flew back home to Texas to work with swing coach Randy Smith, who detected a flaw in Palmer’s backswing.
He also played nine practice holes with Tour veteran Steve Stricker, who helped Palmer with his bunker shots and chips.
“I put in the work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it was a matter of putting it to the test,” Palmer said.
He cruised on Thursday and was happier Friday that the mental side of his game held up.
“The hardest part was coming out and backing it up,” Palmer said. “I was a little sluggish start to get going, but calmed down. I think I hit my last 12 or 13 greens (in regulation) and I putted great.”
Finau shakes off slow start
Tony Finau’s first-round lead evaporated quickly when he bogeyed the 10th and 12th holes after starting on the back nine Friday.
But he went bogey-free the rest of the round and birdied five holes to grab a share of the lead heading into Saturday.
“Not the ideal start, but I knew I couldn’t look back after 12,” Finau said. “(I had to) just keep on plugging along and try to hit good shot after good shot, and was able to execute a lot better after that.”
Finau, a 30-year-old from Utah, had three top-six finishes in the two months before the coronavirus virus shut down the Tour, hadn’t quite found his form until this week. His best finish in four tournaments since the Tour’s restart is a tie for 23rd at the Colonial tournament in mid-June.
Rahm settles in
Jon Rahm’s first three rounds at the Workday Charity Open were not befitting someone ranked second in the world.
He was 3-over par heading into Sunday when he shot a 64. The Spaniard has carried that over to the Memorial. His 67 put him at 8 under and just one shot behind the early leaders.
He’s not sure if that Sunday round sparked him or not.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I started with a bogey on 10 and I just told (caddy) Adam (Hayes), ‘Let’s just go for it. I have nothing to lose whatsoever, a lot to win.’ I started hitting good shots, making a couple putts, and that’s how I ended up being low. I didn’t really focus on the score or anything special.”
Even then, he said, his swing didn’t feel great. He found the groove in practice Tuesday and it has continued.
Friday couldn’t have started out much worse for the world’s top-ranked player. Grouped with Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy started on the back nine and bogeyed No. 10 and double-bogeyed No. 11 after hitting in the water.
Quickly, he had to reassess his ambition for the round.
“My goal was to try to get back to even par for the day,” he said. “I didn’t really put a time frame on it when I wanted to get back to even par, but if I got back to even par for the day, and I did that, and I went a little bit beyond that.”
It wasn’t a smooth path. He had four birdies and eagled the par-5 fifth hole, but also had three more bogeys to finish with a 72 and reach 2 under for the tournament.
McIlroy is safely within the cut line, but others had to sweat it. Phil Mickelson had two late birdies to salvage a 74 and finish at 2 over, which likely will let him play the weekend.
Koepka double-bogeyed his final hole after hitting in the water and was at 3 over along with Woods.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose were 5 over. Webb Simpson was 6 over.
Walker survives 9 on 15th
An otherwise solid second round for Jimmy Walker was marred by a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 15th hole.
Then again, a big number is unavoidable when you’re still on the tee hitting your fifth shot. Walker’s first tee shot went out of bounds to the right. So did his next. After that, he rebounded nicely, needing only four shots to get in the cup on the par-5 hole.
Walker regrouped to finish with a 70 and is 2-under par.