Fowler left behind by Woods' surge at Memorial
By RUSTY MILLER
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) On the first hole of Sunday's final round of the Memorial, Rickie Fowler poured in a 14-foot birdie putt.
The gallery - a sizable portion of which was clad in neon-bright orange just like Fowler - went crazy. The fans screamed his name and applauded madly as they stomped off to the second tee.
Marshals had to quiet the crowd down: It seemed that Fowler's playing partner in the next-to-last group still had a par tap-in left.
That was the only time Tiger Woods was an afterthought all day.
Woods came storming back to shoot a 67 to win his fifth Memorial by two strokes over Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini.
Fowler, with at least as many fans as Woods in the massive mob that followed every shot of the duo, sagged to a dismal 84.
Despite the pleadings of his resplendent fans, Fowler just couldn't get anything going.
"It was one of those days. I made a birdie on the first hole. I pulled (a shot) on 2 and just kind of got behind the 8 ball," he said. "If you're not hitting your numbers, especially coming down (the stretch) on Sunday, it's going to separate the men from the boys. Today I was just a little off."
Here's how bad it was for the 23-year-old Oklahoma State product, proudly dressed from head to toe in the school's bright orange: He had eight bogeys, three doubles, five pars and just two birdies.
The 84 - his worst round on the PGA Tour by five shots - dropped him from sole possession of third at the start of the day to a tie for 52nd at the end. Two shots off the lead after that birdie on the first hole, he ended up 16 shots back of Woods.
He wasn't shaken by the four-hour death march of a round. Far from it.
"I'm going to have a lot of Sundays from now on," he said. I've had some bad ones, I've had some good ones and it's not going to be the last bad one."
Then he turned to a nearby barrier where kids were lined up three and four deep, many dressed like him in Puma hats and shirts with loud colors. He proceeded to sign autographs for almost 30 minutes after one of the most disappointing days of his young life.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Woods' victory was his 73rd on the PGA Tour, tying him with Memorial founder Jack Nicklaus for second place behind Sam Snead's 82.
Counting only what he won in his 73 victories from 1996-2012, Woods has earned $66,319,241.
Nicklaus received $2,380,277 just for his 73 victories between 1962 and 1986.
MAKING HEADLINES: Nicklaus completely redesigned the par-3 16th hole at Muirfield Village two years ago. At the time, he said he didn't like the hole because it was "just a way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee."
Well, the 205-yard, par-3 already has its own signature moment.
From a difficult lie behind the green, Woods used a 60-degree sand wedge to chip in for birdie to tie for the lead. A 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole assured the victory.
The thing is, Nicklaus didn't like the way the hole was set up in the final round. He said the pin was in the wrong spot for a wind coming from left to right.
"I'm glad I didn't have to play my own hole," he said.
LET DOWN AGAIN: Another 54-hole lead, another disappointment for Spencer Levin.
Earlier this year he was on top by six shots with 18 holes left at Phoenix and ended up third. He started Sunday at the Memorial leading Rory Sabbatini by a shot but was tied for fourth at the end.
Each time he lapsed to a 75.
"I knew Tiger was going to play good today. He always does," Levin said. "I'm not naive. I knew I had to play good to win. If I could have shot under par today, I would have won. I mean, the course is hard, but I knew I was going to have to have a really good round. That's just the way it is out here."
Had he just parred the final nine holes at Muirfield Village, he would have gone to a playoff with Woods. Instead, he shot a 40 that included three bogeys and a double.
"I've just got to find a way to get a little tougher there on the back nine," he said. "That's it. I've just got to find a way to trust myself a little more. The mind starts wandering and it's easy to do."
After four grueling rounds in a variety of weather conditions at the Memorial, now Levin has to get up early tomorrow and play 36 holes during U.S. Open sectional qualifying at two Columbus-area clubs.
"I'm going to try and go get some sleep," he said after he collected $272,800 for tying Daniel Summerhays for fourth. "I didn't get any sleep last night, so I've got to try and go get some sleep tonight."
QUOTABLE: After his awful round, Fowler was asked if Woods was his old vintage self coming down the stretch: "I wasn't counting, I had too many strokes of my own to count."
FLOYD HONORED: Ray Floyd will be the 2013 honoree at the Memorial Tournament.
Each year Nicklaus' tournament selects a luminary of golf's past who contributed through playing, designing courses or building the sport.
Floyd won 22 PGA Tour titles, including four major championships. He also won the Memorial in 1982.
Floyd, who will be 70 in September, will be honored at a ceremony before the 2013 Memorial.
BEAR TROPHIES: Nicklaus annually honors the top players at all levels of college golf. He handed out the latest awards on Sunday.
Justin Thomas of Alabama, Nova Southeastern's Ben Taylor, Noah Ratner from Guilford, Texas Wesleyan's Nathan Anderson and Jimmy Kozikowski of South Mountain Community College were the 2012 winners.
DIVOTS: J.B. Holmes, Greg Owen, Romero and Woods had the best rounds of the day at 67. ... Owen climbed 27 spots, from a tie for 36th to a tie for ninth. ... Woods has now won $5,034,448 - just in his 13 Memorial starts. ... Muirfield Village is now the fifth course where Woods has won at least five tournaments. ... Daniel Summerhays finished tied for fourth, his best finish on tour. ... Dustin Johnson, making his first start after a 2 1/2 month layoff recovering from back pain, tied for 19th. ... Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner and Woods are the only multiple winners on tour this year. ... Romero's tie for second with Rory Sabbatini is his best tour finish since winning in New Orleans in 2008. ... Sabbatini has now finished second 14 times on tour. ... The Memorial's 54-hole leader has won the tournament less than half the time (17 of 37).
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .
Updated June 3, 2012