The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Yards: 7,352 as per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,000 square feet on average
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue at 3”
Water Hazards: 13
Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead (1974)
Winner’s Share: $1,116,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods won the Memorial for the fifth time as he defeated Argentine Andres Romero and South African Rory Sabbatini each by two shots.
Dates: May 30-June 2
Notes: Muirfield Village Golf Club will host the 2013 Presidents Cup
This will be another week where course experience will matter as Roger Maltbie (1976) is the only player to win in his first attempt at Muirfield Village. It was the inaugural year so somebody had to do it!
There have only been three players in history to make the Memorial their first victory on TOUR. Keith Fergus (1981), Kenny Perry (1991) and Tom Lehman (1994) are the answer to that trivia question. That will win you a pint at any bar if anyone is questioning your Memorial knowledge.
Joining Tiger Woods as multiple champions of this event are Kenny Perry (1991, 2003 and 2008), Jack Nicklaus (1977, 1984), Tom Watson (1976, 1996) and Greg Norman (1990, 1995). No offense to Kenny Perry, but one of these things is not like the other…
In 37 events, only seven internationals have entered the winner’s circle. Three of those players, Justin Rose (2010), K.J. Choi (2007) and Carl Pettersson (2006) have secured their title in the last seven years. #trendnotatrend
There are eight former champions in the field this week.
Vijay Singh 1997
Fred Couples 1998
Jim Furyk 2002
Ernie Els 2004
In 2013 10 of the 20 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. Last week was the eighth time in nine weeks where the 54-hole leader(s) have not held up as Matt Kuchar was caught and passed by Boo Weekley. Only Tiger Woods has held up his end of the bargain in that stretch.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26) and Weekley (39).
The young folks (30 and younger) now have nine victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 11 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. This week’s “great hope” for the Old folks was Steve Flesch! He was just two shots off the lead heading into Sunday before his 73 knocked him back to T22. For a guy who hasn’t played much golf, a tip of the cap is in order! Flesch, intererestingly enough, will be inside the ropes again this week but this time as a commentator for the Golf Channel!
Rank and File
This week, as of Monday afternoon, 31 of the top 50 OWGR are teeing it up this week, including the top six.
Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead created Muirfield Village Golf Club at the same time that Nicklaus was in the prime of his golfing career. It’s hard to imagine Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson putting in this kind of work as they are chasing down majors. The times they have changed. Sure, Woods has his name on a tournament each year but it’s not like he build and designed the course or created a TOUR event by doing so. Nicklaus again proved that having balance in family and professional life was the key to his success inside and outside the ropes.
The Muirfield Village Golf Club was also ahead of its time as the course design also took the spectator into account. Nicklaus envisioned a golf course and golf tournament that would be the envy of the professional and spectator world. Mounds were developed around holes which created a natural amphitheater setting to take in all the action. Also, the course was designed with the player in mind as well. Generous fairways and slick, tiered putting greens will give the players plenty of chances for birdies but the thick rough around the greens will also penalize those who are inaccurate. Last year Muirfield Village ranked as the No. 6 most difficult course on TOUR as it played 1.6 shots over par for the week.
The winning formula this week will be guys who are experienced and are excellent iron players. Steve Stricker (2011) and Carl Pettersson (2006) are the only recent champions who aren’t considered in that grouping as they are more known for their talents on and around the greens. With the generous fairways in play this week driving accuracy can be overlooked. Remember, players who hit the most greens have the most chances to make birdie and with the average winning score over the last decade being around 14-under, the fellas will need a few of those to be in the mix this week.
Top 10 Plus One
Tiger Woods: What a difference a year makes, eh? This time last year we were all wondering when Woods would return to his old, dominating self and he showed us he was on that track after his beauty chip-in on No. 16 on Sunday to seal his fifth victory here. The question for gamers in 2013 has been to “save him” or “use him”. Those of you who bagged $1,710,000 at THE PLAYERS on him don’t have to answer that. Neither do the folks who cashed on him at Torrey Pines, Doral or Bay Hill. I’m taking one for the team this week and leaving him out of my one-and-done. #urwelcome
Justin Rose: The 2010 champion is a threat any time he tees it up and this week is not any different for me. Sure he didn’t play as well as gamers would have liked at Wentworth but he should pop right back to form this week. In eight starts at the Memorial, he’s finished in the top 10 in half of them including solo eighth last year. He’s fifth in ball-striking and eighth in scrambling and will have four par-fives to take advantage of this week as well.
Matt Kuchar: After leading through 54-holes last week, Kuchar will be disappointed he didn’t close the deal but he’s a big-time pro and that’s not going to bother him this week. In 2007 he finished T13 to kick off a run of T10, T5, T8 and T2 in his last visit in 2011. I think he’ll be just fine this week on this track. Remember, Kuchar has not missed a non-major cut in the US since May 2010. That’s gold in fantasy land!
Lee Westwood: Again, another player who didn’t fire last Sunday doesn’t concern me one bit this week. In Westwood’s last four tournaments stateside he’s racked up T10 (Shell), T8 (Masters), T4 (Wells Fargo) and T8 at THE PLAYERS. Believe it or not but he’s currently fifth in scrambling and 67th in total putting on TOUR.
Adam Scott: The lightly-raced Scott is flying high after his 2013 Masters championship and he back that up with a solid T19 at THE PLAYERS. I always wonder about guys coming off lay-offs but the better the player, the less I worry and Scott fits that description. He’ll be asked a few questions about lining up lawyers to fight the anchoring ban but his talent and his caddy shouldn’t be disregarded this week.
Luke Donald: He arrived home early from Wentworth last weekend after firing 78-72 in less than stellar golfing conditions so jet lag of any sort goes out the window here. Donald, like Stricker, has had plenty of success here as he’s finished no worse than T14 in his last four starts over the last five years. He also has a T6 and T7 in that span so he’s proven to be a contender on this track.
Rory McIlroy: Another victim to the cut last week in England, McIlroy seems to be in the news for everything except his golfing prowess. His short spat with Graeme McDowell is now over but McIlroy is changing management groups again and that was the pre-tournament focus at Wentworth. Gamers shouldn’t forget that his history at Wentworth is nothing short of awful so a MC should not have come as much surprise. His last two events stateside have been very “Lee Westwood-ian” as he finished T10 at Wells Fargo and T8 at THE PLAYERS. He did fire 71-79 last year to start the latest “what’s happened to McIlroy” rubbish but he did post fifth and T10 the two previous years before last.
Charl Schwartzel: After MC last week at Colonial some folks might run for the hills but his 70-70 didn’t exactly show any regression, especially on a course he was playing for his first time. He’s plenty long, hits tons of greens and can putt with anyone so I have no problem endorsing him again this week.
Jim Furyk: In 17 starts Furyk has won and hit the top 10 five other times. The veteran seems to have the same history at every course he tees it up and that’s a sign of a great career. Furyk has not won on TOUR since 2010 when he won the FedExCup championship but I’ll take steady over lightning in a bottle most weeks.
Webb Simpson: His short game will be the reason he’s either in or out of the top 25 this week as he’s currently 30th in scrambling and 33rd in total putting. He’s another premium player that I have a hard time leaving out of any event as his game assimilates to every type of course.
Brandt Snedeker: It was here last season that Snedeker suffered his second injury set-back of the campaign as he WD with a rib injury. Any time I hear the words “slick greens” he jumps up to the top of the list. This would seem to be a course that sets up for his game perfectly but he’s 0-5 in his career here. I have faith in the “new” Snedeker that he’ll be just fine this week after his performance and the Masters and THE PLAYERS.