Friday, June 1, 2012

Memorial Round 1

7:57 PM

Stallings surges on last four holes

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Scott Stallings made a late move to take the overnight lead at Murifield Village.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio — So far, the 2012 season has been a "lackluster" one for Scott Stallings. His words, not ours. He even went so far as to say that lackluster "would be an understatement."
Stallings, though, is being a bit hard on himself. After all he tore cartilage in five ribs, as well as an intercostal muscle, after the Sony Open in Hawaii. He tried to play through the pain, entering three more events, before heading home to Tennessee where a doctor suggested an MRI that revealed the damage.
Even after a month’s rest and an ample supply of painkillers, Stallings has been searching for the kind of form that enabled him to win the Greenbrier Classic as a rookie last year. Until Thursday, that is, as he shot a 66, only his third sub-70 round all season, to take the lead at the Memorial Tournament.
"I wasn’t able to work out, wasn’t able to do the things you need to do to play against the best players in the world," Stallings said, alluding to the self-doubt that crept into his mind during the 35-day layoff. "Now I’m cleared and happy to be able to play injury-free.
Stallings, who just got the go-ahead to hit the fitness trailer two weeks ago, birdied three of his last four holes to seize a one-stroke advantage over Erik Compton and Spencer Levin. He hit nine fairways, 13 greens and used just 25 putts on a course he says he "loves" after tying for 20th last year and at a tournament that is his favorite non-major.
"It was a great start," Stallings said. "I definitely haven’t played very good up to this point. … I stayed positive all throughout being injured and stuff like that.  I kept telling myself that it was only a matter of time before a round like this was coming around.
"… My caddie and I came in on Sunday, they gave us a golf cart, and played 27 holes and just kind of ran around the golf course. So I became more and more comfortable with it as the week went on."
Stallings played the par 5s particularly well on Thursday, making a chip-in eagle at the seventh hole and three other birdies. The eagle, which moved Stallings to 3 under, seemed to jump-start his round.
"That was kind of the moment that my caddie is like, all right, here we go," Stallings said. "I was kind of starting to build some momentum. I started hitting some really good shots. … Obviously any time you have a little chip that goes in like that, it’s a bonus. But it was kind of the moment — I think that was the most under par I’d been since Kapalua.  And that’s a long time ago.
"To be 3 under through 7 and kind of be able to build upon that was something that was pretty big instead of just kind of being there and hanging around. So hopefully we can build on it for the rest of the week."