The Memorial Tournament
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
Par: 72 (36-3)
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: Matt Kuchar defeated Kevin Chappell by two shots to win at Muirfield Village for the first time in his career.
Dates: May 29-June 1
Notes: Stroke play; top 70 and ties play the weekend.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 21 of 28 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Brendon Todd have won for the USA.
Adam Scott joined Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, who have cashed five victories along with South Korean Seung-yul Noh and German Martin Kaymer.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones and Brendon Todd are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had eight in 28 events so far in 2014.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32) and Adam Scott (33) have collected hardware for the Prime Timers.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer (29) plus Brendon Todd, 28, are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
The Memorial played its first tournament in 1976 with NBC’s Roger Maltbie picking up the title. He remains the only player to win in his first start at Muirfield Village. #0-37since
There have only been four champions who have made the Memorial their first TOUR win. Keith Fergus (1981), Kenny Perry (1991), Tom Lehman (1994) and Justin Rose in 2010 the four members of this tiny club.
In 38 events, only seven, foreign-born players have been victorious.
There have only been three playoffs in 38 events. The last one was in 1992. #drought
Kenny Perry, 47, won for the third time in 2008 making him the oldest winner in history.
Tiger Woods, 23, won his first of five titles in 1999 making him the youngest champion.
Tiger Woods is the only player to defend his title on these grounds. To the surprise of nobody, he did back-to-back (1999-2001).
The course record is 61, set by John Huston in 1996.
Tom Lehman’s maiden victory on TOUR was done in style as his 268 (-20) is the tournament record.
The last winning score in single-digits-under-par (-8) was Olin Browne in 1999. #birdiesboys
Only two of the last 14 winners have been in single-digits under par with the last being Tiger Woods 279 (-9) in 2012.
Matt Kuchar looks to join Tiger Woods (five), Kenny Perry (three), Jack Nicklaus (two), Hale Irwin (two) and Greg Norman as the only multiple champions.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Only Texan Jimmy Walker is not here this week.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
Phil Mickelson has MC more times, one, at the Memorial than he has victories, zero, in 12 starts. There are not many tournaments that Mickelson has played this many times and not won outside of the U.S. Open.
Past Champions Since 2000
2013 Matt Kuchar -12
2012 Tiger Woods -9
2011 Steve Stricker -16
2010 Justin Rose -18
2009 Tiger Woods -12
2008 Kenny Perry -8
2007 KJ Choi -17
2006 Carl Pettersson -12
2005 Bart Bryant -16
2004 Ernie Els -18
2003 Kenny Perry -13
2002 Jim Furyk -14
2001 Tiger Woods -17
2000 Tiger Woods -19
Inside the Ropes
Muirfield Village was the dream of a young Jack Nicklaus back in the mid 60’s as he wished to bring a big-time golf event to his home state of Ohio. After searching Columbus and surrounding areas he determined that Dublin would become the home for his dream and he created Muirfield Village. With the help of Pete Dye, who had showed young Nicklaus the design ropes, and Desmond Muirhead, Nicklaus struck out to design a course that would be an excellent test of golf for years to come plus provide a spectator-friendly environment to do so.
He accomplished both.
With the spectator and the player in mind, Nicklaus designed the course to be challenging to play and easy to watch. He was the forefather of “amphitheater” golf as his Muirfield was put into commission two years before TPC Sawgrass. He designed mounding around the greens so that the patrons could enjoy multiple views from multiple spots around his course.
The course itself, as Nicklaus has admitted, was designed by “the seat of his pants” but corners were not cut and the course still holds up to this day. And from most accounts on Twitter this week, it’s immaculate as we’ve enjoyed plenty of rain and sunshine in the Midwest the last two months. The Augusta of the North will prove a worthy challenge again this year.
As with most Nicklaus designs, this is a second-shot course as the host gives you plenty of room to work the ball into the fairway off the tee. Similar to Augusta, the second shot is where the action takes place. Most of the greens are protected by many, deep, difficult bunkers which have ranked as some of the toughest on TOUR to get up-and-down from. There are also closely-mown areas where errant shots run off and away. If that’s not enough, the hole always seems to get harder the closer the player gets. Muirfield annually ranks as one of the hardest places to get it close to the hole from the fairway, rough and the bunkers plus putting is no picnic either. The Bentgrass greens run at 13’ on the Stimpmeter and putting from inside of 10, 5 and 3 feet are some of the most demanding on TOUR. It’s no wonder why Muirfield Village ranks annually in the top 20 courses played on TOUR. If that’s not enough, 40 yards was added on the most difficult hole, No. 18, to bring back the original design of the dogleg right. Players won’t be making many birdies there coming home!
Recent Course Ratings
2013: 2nd hardest (non-major) on TOUR
2012: 3rd HNM
2009: 3rd HNM
2008: 2nd HNM
The week usually belongs to premium ball-strikers who hit plenty of greens or to premium putters who don’t throw away shots on the Bentgrass. Matt Kuchar did the double last year as he was first in GIR and second in strokes gained-putting. It was no wonder why him and second-place finisher Kevin Chappell were the only two players to play all four rounds under par last year. To add more perspective, Chappell’s 68 on Sunday was the ONLY bogey-free round of the week. It’s not a wonder why inexperience doesn’t win here very often. Players must be patient with the weather (there is ALWAYS a delay) and the risk-reward as positioning in the large fairways will determine whether GIR is achieved.