“Pretty good for a retired guy,” Pettersson said. He was only half-kidding when he finished the Memorial in a tie for 38th, earning his first paycheck ($43,245) since the Canadian Open three years ago.
He is not hurting financially. Pettersson was a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the Memorial in 2006, and has just over $22 million in career earnings. That’s why he can consider himself retired at age 42 with enough love for the game that he plays four times a week at home in North Carolina.
“I’d had enough,” Pettersson said. “I was playing so poorly two years ago, it was no fun. I decided I wanted to watch the kids grow up — 16 and 13. You play this game, you have to be selfish. You travel seven months a year, when you’re home you’re practicing and playing. It’s all about you.
“If my game hadn’t gone south, I’d probably still be doing it,” he said. “But I decided I didn’t want to be miserable in my 40s. And luckily, I played good enough where I could do it. If I hadn’t played good enough, I’d still be doing it.”
He plans to return to a full schedule when he turns 50 and is eligible for the PGA Tour Champions. Pettersson’s best year was 2006, when he finished 18th on the money list. His best chance at a major was in 2012 at Kiawah Island, when he played in the final group with Rory McIlroy in the PGA Championship. McIlroy blew everyone away to win by eight. Pettersson tied for third.
What contributed to Pettersson’s poor play was the decision to ban the anchored stroke for his long putter. He made the cut in only four of the 24 events he played in 2016 as he struggled to find a replacement for the only putting stroke he had as a pro.
That’s what made his appearance at the Memorial so remarkable. It was the toughest test of the year, the strongest field of the year. Pettersson only plays at home. He doesn’t grind on the range. Yet he was hardly dead weight. He made the cut, and then had one of only five rounds under par on Sunday.
“Can I buy that from you?" Carlos Ortiz joked as he headed to the first tee for the final round. That boosts Pettersson's priority ranking enough that he should be eligible for a few opposite-field events. For him, that’s just enough.
“Golf’s a weird game,” he said. “I’m playing better now than I did three years ago. I still play at home. I don’t practice. I play with members, the assistant pro. And I do a lot of boat riding.” He doesn’t miss the grind of playing the tour. But he does miss seeing players — Pettersson said he didn’t recognize half of them — caddies and other acquaintances.
“I looked at it this way,” Pettersson said. “I’m never going to be as good as I was. Why grind it out and be miserable?” Pettersson is anything but miserable. That much hasn’t changed. It was evident by what appeared to be the logo he had on the bill of his visor: LdM5.
A corporate sponsor? “That’s the name of my boat,” he said. “Long drive, make 5.” LPGA RESTART The global nature of the LPGA Tour and the way the schedule falls for the planned resumption from the COVID-19 pandemic-caused shutdown has created some dynamics rarely seen.
According to Golf Channel, the top eight South Koreans in the world will not be at the LPGA Drive On Championship next week at Inverness Club in Toledo. That likely would be the case the following week at the Marathon Classic.
Several of the South Koreans have been riding out the pandemic at home. It would make little sense to come over to America for two weeks when the next stops are the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s British Open.
Meanwhile, all five Americans among the top 20 in the world ranking will be at the LPGA Drive On Championship. RORY AT NO. 2 It took Rory McIlroy more than four years to return to No. 1 in the world. He doesn't think he'll have to wait that long to return after Jon Rahm took over with his victory at the Memorial.
McIlroy was a clear No. 1 with seven straight finishes in the top 5, including a victory last fall in a World Golf Championship. Since the return from the COVID-19 pandemic, he has yet to post a top 10 and has three finishes outside the top 30.
“I haven't played good enough since coming back after the lockdown to hold that spot,” McIlroy said after a 78 on Sunday to tie for 32nd in the Memorial. Rahm wasn't playing his best after the restart, either, with one exception: He won on Sunday.
“He deserves it,” McIlroy said. “He's been playing great for a long time.” McIlroy takes a week off before going to the FedEx St. Jude Invitational, a World Golf Championship where he finished second a year ago, and then the PGA Championship at Harding Park.
“I need to play better,” McIlroy said. “If I play better and eradicate the big mistakes I've been making over these past few weeks, I'll have a chance. There's enough good stuff for me to get back there.”
MUIRFIELD BOUNDARIES Bryson DeChambeau had a hard time accepting his shot was out-of-bounds on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village, the golf ball just inside the black fencing of a beautiful home. “I want to know if I could hop the fence and hit it,” he told a rules official in a desperate attempt to save some shots.
That wouldn’t be an issue a few events after the Memorial, even if the greens were not being ripped up and replaced. The fencing is temporary, and not just on the 15th. Dublin has an ordinance against fences except in cases of a swimming pool, so for years the Memorial used a pocket mesh fence to keep homeowners from spilling onto the course during the tournament. That didn’t do the trick, so in 2013, the tournament purchased more than 7 miles of black fencing about 6 feet high. It looks nice. It looks as though it’s part of the landscape. It’s not.
Tournament director Dan Sullivan says it takes about a month to install (there are sleeves in the ground) before the tournament, and three weeks to take it down. DIVOTS Justin Rose has missed the cut in three straight events, the first time that's happened since 2011. ... The PGA Tour Champions added two events in consecutive weeks in August at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri this year. ... The Symetra Tour resumes its schedule this week in Michigan. But it said the Guardian Championship in Alabama that was scheduled for Sept. 18-20 has been canceled this year because of the pandemic. ... Ryan Palmer earned $1,013,700 for his runner-up finish at the Memorial. That's his biggest check on the PGA Tour, topping the $990,000 he earned in 2010 for winning the Sony Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK The Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial featured only one round in the 60s on Sunday. Both belonged to Matthew Fitzpatrick, a 69 at Bay Hill and a 68 at Muirfield Village. FINAL WORD
“You always hear about people saying champions make it happen. And at that point, I made it happen.” — Jon Rahm, on his chip-in behind the 16th green at Memorial after his eight-shot lead had been cut to three.