DUBLIN, Ohio — William McGirt thought he hit it big when he won the Cabarrus Classic and pocketed $16,000, the second-largest prize on the Tar Heel Tour.
That was in 2007, and it felt like a lifetime ago compared with the perks from winning the Memorial on Sunday.
The victory was worth $1.53 million and a three-year exemption for a guy who once dreamed of simply having a PGA Tour card.
Waiting to congratulate him was tournament host Jack Nicklaus, who raved about the bunker shot on the 18th hole that kept McGirt in the playoff at Muirfield Village and the flop shot from behind the 18th green that led to a 6-foot putt and his first PGA Tour victory in his 165th try.
U.S. Open qualifying? Take the day off. McGirt moves up to No. 43 in the world and was assured a spot in his first national championship.
"It will all sink in at some point," McGirt said.
McGirt couldn't count all the mini-tours he played and the self-doubts he ignored, including a four-month stretch in which he saw his wife for only four days. But on Sunday against the strongest field of the year for a regular PGA Tour event, McGirt made his first victory one to remember.
He played the final 22 holes at Muirfield without bogey. His final par in regulation was the most important, a two-putt from 65 feet for 1-under 71 that allowed him to join Jon Curran (70) in a playoff at 15-under 273.
McGirt won the way Nicklaus said he captured so many of his 73 times on tour.
"I won half of my golf tournaments watching everyone else self-destruct," Nicklaus said. "And that's the way you win."
Dustin Johnson dropped three shots in four holes to start the back nine, and a fourth bogey on the 16th ended it for him. Matt Kuchar was tied for the lead when he returned from a 90-minute rain delay and promptly hit the lip of a fairway bunker and made double bogey. Emiliano Grillo had a share of the lead until starting the back nine with four straight bogeys. Gary Woodland, who went into the day tied with McGirt and Kuchar for the lead, couldn't get up-and-down behind the 17th green and made bogey.
CHAMPIONS: Scott McCarron won the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, for his first seniors title, birdieing the final three holes for 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory. McCarron finished at 15-under 201 to edge Miguel Angel Jimenez and second-round leader Billy Andrade in his 17th start on the 50-and-over tour. Andrade had 68 after shooting a course-record 63 Saturday. Jimenez shot 67.
LPGA: Anna Nordqvist successfully defended her ShopRite Classic title, closing with 7-under 64 in breezy conditions for a one-stroke victory in Galloway Township, N.J. Nordqvist finished at 17-under 196 to tie the tournament record that Annika Sorenstam set in 1998 and matched in 2005. Haru Nomura, a two-time winner this year, was second after 66. Karine Icher, the second-round leader after matching the course record with 62, had 69 to finish third at 14 under.