From Texas, to Ohio. Colonial, to Muirfield Village. Hogan’s Alley, to Jack’s Place. That’s about where the comparisons between last week and this week end. Yet, one thread remains between Hogan, Nicklaus, and this week’s Memorial Tournament; the iconic status of both the event, and the players holding spots in the field.
If the powers that be were to dub a tournament “The Sixth Major,” this might be at the top of that list. Eight of the top 10 players in the world rankings and 12 of the top 15 in this year’s FedEx Cup standings will be on site in hopes of impressing one of the last true living legends of the game; Jack Nicklaus.
Essentially a gift to his home town of Columbus, Ohio, Muirfield Village sprung to existence in 1974 and has had an unprecedented run since. Not only the host of every Memorial Tournament since then, Muirfield Village is, still, the only course in the world to host the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, and the Solheim Cup. It’s also been the site of a US Amateur, and is a constant presence on both America’s top-20 courses, and the World’s top-50 courses lists.
Measuring in at 7392 yards and a 72-par, Muirfield Village, on the surface, is a rather typical looking course. Tree-lined fairways, lush green rough, manicured greens, white bunkers; that sort of thing. Look a little deeper though, and you’ll find one of the more tough, fair tests of golf on the PGA Tour. The winning score over the past ten seasons has ranged from 8-under-par, to 15-under-par, with the cut line hovering right around even par. When setting out to design the course, Nicklaus had hopes of bringing an Augusta-like, Masters-ish event to the Ohio area. It may not be quite that much of a spectacle, but Jack has created something special without a doubt.
Give the pros a great golf course, in a great spot on the calendar, with a legend of the game hosting — and you’ll inevitably have a good event. Clearly easier said than done, except for this week. From top-to-bottom, this field is loaded with talent. Just about every big name in the game is present, and then some. Cantlay, Day, DeChambeau, Fowler, DJ, Kuchar, Matsuyama, McIlroy, Mickelson, Reed, Rose, Scott, Spieth, Stenson, JT, Bubba, and Tiger. That’s just 17 of the 120 players in the field. Throw in two Canadians (Hadwin and Hughes) and three recent amateurs that are absolute studs: Sam Burns, Joaquin Niemann, and Doc Redman — doesn’t get much better than that.
As for the pairings? They’re juicy.
Thursday morning featured pairings
1st Tee — 7:53 am — Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk
10th Tee — 8:15 am — Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
8:26 am –Justin Rose, Jason Dufner, Tiger Woods
Thursday afternoon featured pairings
1st Tee — 8:15 am — Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson
8:26 am –Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth
Here are my top-five for the week:
- Justin Rose
- Emiliano Grillo
- Jason Day
- Dustin Johnson
- Justin Thomas
And an explanation:
That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading — follow me on Twitter @RJMcCullough and check out this week’s podcast: