McGirt rallies for first time Tour win at Memorial

William McGirt won a play-off against his fellow American Jon Curran at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Sunday to secure his first PGA Tour title.

With the pair tied at 15-under after 72 holes, two extra holes were needed until a winner was decided and when Curran bogeyed the 18th, McGirt wrapped up the victory with a six-foot putt for par.

Dustin Johnson finished third at 14-under, while Rory McIlroy, JB Holmes, Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar tied for fourth a shot further back.

McGirt, 36, has had his share of challenges as a professional playing over the least 12 years on no fewer than seven developmental tours. The victory was worth US$1.53 million and a three-year tour exemption, and it qualified him for the US Open in two weeks, the PGA Championship, and his first Masters.

“It feels like a lifetime ago,” said McGirt following his win.

“It will all sink in at some point. I don’t know when. It’s just been years and years of practice and getting your nose bloodied and learning from it.”

The final round had transpired into a war of attrition as players faulted during the closing stages of the event.

Twenty players were separated by four shots going into Sunday yet mistakes were plenty from players with far more experience at winning than Curran or McGirt.

Dustin Johnson had a share of the lead at 16-under until a bogey to start the back nine and a long three-putt bogey on the 12th started a damaging roll for the American. He was still in the hunt for another PGA Tour title until missing a 6-foot par putt on the 16th hole.

Jason Day, a Muirfield Village member and No. 1 in the world, got to within two shots of the lead until he faltered to finish with a 74 and tied for 27th, matching his best result at the Memorial.

“Today was just all over the shop…missing greens with wedges in the hand,” said Day, whose final round included a double-bogey at the 12th, five birdies and five bogeys.

“Just wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked to have been. It is what it is. You can’t win them all.”

Matt Kuchar, the 2013 winner at Muirfield Village, was at the lead at 16-under before a bogey on the 12th only to be followed by a double bogey on the 13th having needed two shots to get out of the bunker.

McGirt’s final-round 71 was one of four bogey-free rounds Sunday and to add value to his maiden PGA Tour win, he beat the world’s top three players – Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – to do it.

McGirt moves up to No. 43 in the world and was assured a spot in his first national championship. He also became the third straight Memorial champion to become a first-time PGA Tour winner, and it was the third straight playoff at Muirfield Village.