DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — One guy set a tournament record with seven consecutive birdies — all on the front side — and then was 10 strokes worse on the back nine. The other had a snowman and two eagles in the same round. Both shot their low rounds of the week.
Welcome to the wacky world of Mark Wilson and Jerry Kelly, a couple of Wisconsin natives who did and saw just about everything in one 4-hour span at the Memorial Tournament on Saturday.
Wilson, playing in his first Memorial, barely made the cut with rounds of 71 and 75. Not much was happening in his game.
Then, after parring the first two holes of the third round, something clicked.
“I just had one of those magical things you always dream about,” he said.
He hit his approach to the third hole 4 feet for birdie, then to a foot at No. 4. He made 15-foot birdie putts at No. 5 and again at No. 6, then two-putted for another birdie at the par-5 seventh. He closed out a record-tying 29 on the front nine with birdie putts of 20 and 30 feet.
The seven straight birdies broke the tournament record of six held by tournament founder Jack Nicklaus, Jay Haas and Jim Furyk.
“That’s fantastic, holding the record at Jack Nicklaus’ course,” Wilson said. “That’s an honor.”
Unfortunately for him, things fell apart on the back side. He had four bogeys in a 39, to close out a 68.
Kelly could only shake his head when asked if it was a little bit of a strange round.
“A little bit?” he said. “Yeah, it was pretty weird.”
He played a part in it, too.
Kelly turned in 32, including an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole, and had it going just like his playing partner. But then he twice hit into the creek which meanders through the par-5 11th on his way to a triple-bogey 8.
Three holes later, after Wilson hit his approach on the par-4 14th to 3 feet, Kelly stood over his second shot.
“He skipped it in there and it just kind of kissed off my ball and gave it enough kick to the right that it went in for a 2,” Wilson said.
Wilson shot a 68, Kelly a 69. Both could be paired in the final round. Stay tuned.
A REAL ZINGER: Paul Azinger has been coming to the Memorial since 1985 and won the tournament in 1993. In 72 rounds stretched over all those years at Muirfield Village, he had never hit into the water in front of the par-3 12th hole.
He caught an 8-iron a little thin and saw a splash, the end of a perfectly good streak.
“I had never hit it in the water,” Azinger said. “I shouldn’t say that, because I’ll probably do it 12 more times now.”
He started to hit his third shot from the tee when he realized there was a drop area – something he had never had to use before. Azinger would up with a double bogey and shot 74.
It has been a strange week for him. Azinger hadn’t hit a ball since the AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, for no other reason than he just didn’t feel like it. He showed up Wednesday morning about 6:30 and was done with his practice round in 2 1/2 hours.
His week will end after the final round.
Azinger has pulled out of the Monday qualifier for the U.S. Open. He is not interested in grinding it out for 36 holes on two courses (Scarlet and Scioto) he doesn’t know.
“It gives the first alternate a chance to get here,” he said.
WILLIE MAC: When a reporter asked Will MacKenzie about the past few months, he laughed and said, “Do you want ‘The Adventures of Willie Mac’?”
If you think pro golfers are bland and colorless, then you haven’t been introduced to MacKenzie.
The 32-year-old North Carolinian has led a nomad’s existence — living in a snow cave in Alaska, surfing in Costa Rica and working as a kayak guide in the whitewater rapids of West Virginia. He gave up golf when he was 14 and didn’t pick it up again for a decade, falling back in love with the game after watching Payne Stewart win the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
After his round of 7-under 65 put him at 11 under and near the lead, MacKenzie displayed his unique approach to life.
On hanging around with Tiger Woods during a suspension of play: “He puts off a nice vibe. He’s the man. Unbelievable. He’s the best player to play the game, possibly, in my era. I barely said two words.”
On being seven shots ahead of Woods through 54 holes: “It’s great. He’ll probably shoot about a 58 tomorrow. He’s really good. He loves to come back.”
On what else he did during the break: “I just ate a lot of shrimp and I’m also going to get some alligator belts from my friend Camilo Villegas. … I don’t necessarily agree with killing alligators, but I am getting some alligator belts from Colombia.”
On what people in the gallery say to him: “They say, ‘Let’s go kayaking, Willie Mac! Paddling! Let’s drop off a cliff’! That’s cool. Whatever.”
DIVOTS: Jason Bohn withdrew because of a rib injury after making the cut with rounds of 72 and 71. … Charles Howell III had three double bogeys in a round of 80. … Woods has hit 67 percent of the fairways and has been on in regulation 74 percent of the time, but is averaging 30 putts a round. … Play was suspended for 2 hours, 32 minutes, the 32nd time a round had been suspended, delayed or canceled in the tournament’s 32 years.