Driving Series

06/08/2015

One overtime yesterday overshadowed another. It’s inevitable that this time of year, golf takes a back seat—well a further back seat…a third row seat?—to the NBA, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors battled into five periods for the second consecutive game.

Golf also has the unfortunate task of competing with the Stanley Cup Final, horse racing’s Triple Crown (We have a winner!), the French Open and this year, the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio made ripples on the sports waves but little more. Tiger Woods’ Saturday 85 was the big headline. That doesn’t mean, however, that it wasn’t exciting.

Although, a less than exciting player, if only for his demeanor, David Lingmerth won the tournament in a playoff over Justin Rose. What stood out about the victorious Swede was his ability to stay within himself during a difficult final round.

Phenom Jordan Spieth entered the clubhouse at -13, two back at the time, after a blistering 65 that included a chip-in eagle. With the morning’s leader Rose struggling, and the inexperienced Lingmerth, who hadn’t won on the PGA Tour going in, the closest rival, Spieth looked like he might have stolen the Memorial.

But Lingmerth was undeterred down the stretch. Armed with a new G30 driver, he was even par through 10, only to rally for three birdies in his last eight holes. And when Rose sank a long, sidewinding par putt on the first playoff hole, it forced Lingmerth into a difficult counter from eight feet. With the crowd still buzzing from the Englishman’s effort, Lingmerth delivered.

They pair traded pars again on the second playoff hole. On the third, a wayward tee shot from Rose, gave Lingmerth the opening he needed. A par was enough for win number one in a phenomenal playoff:

Swedes—Henrik Stenson aside—have a reputation for being stoic. Lingmerth’s brown hair defied his heritage somewhat (Stenson, Jesper Parnevik and Jonas Blixt are basically stereotypes in appearance), but the subtle smile screamed Scandinavia. He took up golf in his teens after his hockey dream slowly died out. Lingmerth played collegiately for Arkansas and made his PGA Tour debut in 2013, his rookie year.

It was an up and down first season. Lingmerth made just 11 out of 23 cuts, but finished second twice. Last year marked a minor improvement. He claimed two top-10’s in 26 events, 14 of which he played the weekend.

In other words, Sunday’s victory was worth more than a small smile. But hey, he’s Swedish, which means two things. One, it’s business as usual. Two, we’ll likely see him there again.

Driving Series