This Tour pro was in the middle of the fairway — so how’d he make 13?!
It makes sense that the pros with the lowest scores speak with the media rather than the other way around.
It would be cruel — borderline inhumane — to drag the day’s highest scores in front of the microphone. If you’re, say, Adam Long, and you’ve just finished your Thursday at Muirfield Village with a double and two bogeys in your final four holes to shoot 81, your post-round plans would probably include a combination of “milkshake” and “staring into the distance.” No golfer in his right mind would want to talk through the mishits and misadventures that had led to a tie for 114th place in a field of 120.
But man, can you imagine the opposite?! If fans of auto racing watch partly for the crashes, golf fans are the same way; most of us have been so humbled and humiliated by golf in our own lives that it’s refreshing to see top pros taste a dose of the same. These crashes don’t happen at high speed, though. They’re horror films with talented protagonists for whom things go slowly from bad to much, much worse.
First, enter Chad Ramey.
We won’t put words in his mouth. We won’t stage an imaginary press conference. But we can imagine how he might have felt as he walked up No. 9, his 18th hole of the day, having played the first 17 holes at seven over par on a tough Thursday afternoon at the Memorial. And we can imagine, one dozen shots later, how he must have felt walking off with a round of 16-over 88.
Seven over is never a good score on the PGA Tour. But on this afternoon it actually wasn’t all that bad. The scoring average for the morning wave was a little more than a stroke over par, at 73.18, but for the afternoon crowd it had swollen to more than 75. Ramey’s round had gotten off to a rough start — he’d played his his first five holes in five over par — but he righted the ship after that. Breaking 80 wouldn’t exactly have put him in the thick of contention, but it would be some small consolation. When he striped his tee shot down the fairway of the par-4 9th, he left himself just 106 yards to the hole. The clubhouse must have looked close and comfy.
So what happened next? A lot of bad. Let’s run through it, using only what we can gather from the PGA Tour’s play-by-play.
Shot 2: Ramey’s approach shot traveled 102 yards but finished short and right, which meant it ended up in the water.
Shot 3: Now he dropped in the fairway short of the water, just 49 yards from the hole. A tricky distance to a tucked pin, no doubt. But these guys are pros…
Shots 4, 6 and 8: These traveled 36 yards, 38 yards and 38 yards. All three appeared to have settled in watery graves in nearly identical spots short of the green. As someone who understands both the pain of a chunked pitch shot and the agony of a ball rolling back down a slope into the water, I would dearly like to know more about them.
Shot 10: Ramey hit this one some 31 feet past the hole, finally taking the safer route and leaving himself a putt for septuple bogey.
Shot 11: He ran this putt some six feet past. Who could blame him?
Shot 12: Every truly disastrous hole ends with a three-putt. Ramey obliged by missing this one.
Shot 13: Credit to him for canning a two-and-a-half footer for 13. We’re on to the clubhouse!
If there’s a silver lining it’s that he didn’t have to play any more holes after that. Ramey signed for his nonuple bogey 13 (yeah, I had to Google what happens after septuple and octuple) and his first-round 88 and went on his way.
This should be obvious based on his PGA Tour status but Ramey is, in fact, quite a talented golfer. He finished 12th at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. He won last year’s Corales Puntacana Championship. He’s inside the top 200 in the world and No. 119 in the FedEx Cup. And he made a 13. What a sport!
His day was hardly the only one to go sideways. Rory McIlroy was trucking along at three under par before making triple bogey 7 on his 18th hole. Corey Conners was at even par before he finished double-bogey-double. Xander Schauffele, not typically one for big numbers, was among those to record a quadruple-bogey 7 at the par-3 12th.
In all, eight players from this elite field of 120 shot 80 or above. And while Ramey’s round was the highest of the day that’s only because Dylan Frittelli withdrew at 15 over par on the 15th hole, citing illness.
Second, enter Billy Horschel.
Full transparency: I was just finishing off a slightly different version of this silly little article when I realized what had happened to Horschel. Horschel is the Memorial’s defending champion. He was on last year’s Presidents Cup team. He has talked about wanting to get to No. 1 in the world, about winning major championships, about making this year’s Ryder Cup team. But on Thursday he recorded three doubles and zero birdies en route to 84. And then, to his credit, he bared his soul in a post-round press conference!
When a reporter asked Horschel where he goes from here, he stayed silent for a full 23 seconds, collecting himself before he could respond.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s tough right now,” he said, choking up. “As I said [yesterday], I mean, I’m working really hard, trying to do the right things, and the team’s doing everything really well. It sucked today.”
Horschel’s remarks were a reminder of the agony of a horrible day on the golf course as well as the relentlessness required to keep pushing through as a professional golfer. He said his swing looks good on video. Technically, he’s not that far off. But on the course?
“Listen, my confidence is the lowest it’s been in my entire career — I think ever in my entire golf career,” he said.
But no sport does existential-crisis-with-a-side-of-optimism quite like golf. So Horschel somehow turned things in a positive direction. He said that he had no plans to fake an injury and WD. Instead he’ll come out tomorrow and try to find something that’ll get him a little bit closer.
“So it’s funny, as low as it feels, it feels like I’m not that far off at the same time,” he said. “Which is insane to see when you see me shoot 84 today, it doesn’t — it wouldn’t make sense to a lot of people. But I don’t think I’m that far off.
“I just need — I need the swing to be a little bit better, I need to do a few more things a little bit better. I just need to see a few more quality golf shots and that’s just what I haven’t had. And it’s tough when you come to a course like this and you need to be precise tee to green and I’m not really precise right now from tee to green. Around the greens I put myself in awful positions trying to get up-and-down. And my putting’s trying to bail me out as much as it can. But, yeah, it’s a challenge out there, there’s no doubt about it. But like I said, I’ll keep plugging away and I’ll keep pushing forward and I’ll keep grinding hard I’ll keep working hard and hopefully it f—- comes around soon.”
Hopefully indeed. You could see Horschel’s mood lighten even as he made it from the beginning of the press conference to the end; like any golfer after a tough day, it helped him to talk it out. And you could see him start to get ready for the next one.