Fifty-four holes at the Memorial Tournament was seemingly too many, but then 72 was not quite enough. After Jon Rahm was running away with the tournament following Round 3, he had to withdraw following a positive COVID-19 test, which left Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay tied for the lead after thinking they were six strokes down before the Rahm WD. They remained tied after Sunday's finale before Cantlay clipped Morikawa by making par on No. 18 on the only playoff hole.
It was a straightforward Sunday, especially compared to the theatrics of Saturday's wacky ending, but things did get a bit dramatic at the end. With Morikawa leading by a stroke and just off the green on the 17th hole, a strange five-minute rainstorm pounded Muirfield Village. Morikawa played through it, but then play was stopped before Cantlay putted. It was seemingly a bad break for Morikawa to have to play while Cantlay got to sit.
They both hit long putts -- Cantlay for birdie and Morikawa for par -- so perhaps the delay was meaningless altogether, but it kick-started a dramatic ending. Cantlay nearly matched himself with a long putt on the 18th hole in regulation, but it narrowly missed on the right side. He made a heroic par in the playoff hole after hitting his drive in the junk, and Morikawa again got a bad break when his golf ball was coated in what looked like mud while sitting in the middle of the fairway. He made bogey from there -- on what he called a poorly-executed shot -- and Cantlay made his 4 for the win.
Cantlay is a monster who wins huge tournaments over great players. He beat Adam Scott at this tournament two years ago. He won the Zozo Championship last fall over Justin Thomas and Rahm. Now Morikawa. That's a nasty resume, and his game – which is maybe the most complete of anyone in the world – raises his floor in any given week. To wit, he finished in the top 20 in every strokes-gained category at Muirfield Village.
In many ways, it's fitting that Cantlay cleaned up after Rahm had to withdraw. Cantlay is easy to forget about in a world of bigger personalities and more digital presence (see below). He may be the most forgotten-about top-10 player in the world given his countenance and pace. He shouldn't be -- the game and his resume (four wins in 115 total PGA Tour events) are terrific -- but he probably is. Sunday was a nice reminder, however, that Cantlay is extremely dangerous if given an opening like he unfortunately was this week at Muirfield Village. Grade: A+
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Here are the rest of our grades for the 2021 Memorial.
Collin Morikawa (2nd): I love Morikawa's game, but I love his sense of the moment even more. He failed to close this one out, but the 11-foot par putt he hit on No. 17 after the mini-rain delay was superstar stuff. I know a lot of the clutch "it" factor stuff across sports has been disproven by advanced stats and deeper numbers, but Morikawa makes it incredibly difficult to watch golf and not think there's something special that he has that everyone else does not. Having the tee-to-green game is one thing (and that's definitely there), but standing up to the moment over and over and over again is entirely something else. And that has been one of the defining characteristics of his young career. Grade: A+
Jon Rahm (WD): No matter who won on Sunday at Muirfield Village, we were always going to remember this event as the Jon Rahm COVID Memorial. Barring one of the great disasters in recent PGA Tour history, Rahm was going to go on to win his second consecutive Memorial Tournament, which is something only Tiger Woods has done (he won three in a row from 1999-2001). I don't know if that means there's an asterisk on the win from Sunday or not, but that's not even really the point. In golf, there are a hundred ways to measure outcomes, and one of them is what you remember.
At the end of the season, we will only remember a handful of outcomes from various events, but Rahm's WD is definitely one of them -- different but also similar to when Jordan Spieth kicked away the 2016 Masters. He won't get a Wikipedia entry or the winner's money this week, and I'm sure what you and I remember is of little consolation to him. Unfortunately for him, that's the only outcome other than the confidence he takes into an even more important two weeks from now, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Grade: I
Rickie Fowler (T11): It's been a bit of a resurgence for Fowler, who did everything well except hit driver this week. The rest of his game was encouraging for the second straight event, and he posted consecutive top-15 finishes for the first time in over a year after finishing T8 at the PGA Championship two weeks ago. Now he's off to try and qualify for the U.S. Open on Monday, which given how he's been playing, I think he'll do. Fowler legitimately playing well is good to see and great for golf.
"You can't go out there and play golf swing," said Fowler. "So that's where it's kind of been starting to come together with a little extra work I've been doing on putting to get that back. It's nice to have some confidence again. That was something that made the last year and a half even worse. I didn't have the flat stick to save me. So everything started to come around. Definitely happy about the last few tournaments, just the start of it going forward." Grade: A
Bryson DeChambeau (T18): The Big Boy had a very eventful week as well, though not quite as eventful as Rahm's. DeChambeau was in the news for (allegedly) having fans who yelled Brooks Koepka's name at him tossed from the premises. That's not the greatest look in the world, and for the sixth tournament in a row, he was a non-factor on Sunday. His T18 is one of his better finishes since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but he only has one top 10 in the last two months heading into Torrey, and that should be of bigger concern to him than who is or is not hollering Koepka's name in the gallery. Grade: B