The PGA Tour returns to Muirfield Village for Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. Nicklaus co-designed and built the course which opened in 1974. Since then it has hosted the Tour for over 30 years whilst the Ryder Cup was also played here in 1987. Just like in his playing career, Nicklaus takes his course designing very seriously. To that end there is always something new at Muirfield Village by the time the world’s best come to play. Taking of the world’s best, Rory McIlroy wrote a personal letter to Nicklaus to tell him that he would not be able to play at the Memorial this year, so important is the tournament to the world’s number one.
Although McIlroy is not in attendance, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler are all competing alongside other major champions and multiple winners. They will find the par-72, 7,392 yard course in great condition, playing to its true test. It’s long but there is plenty of space for errant drives so the bigger challenge is around the greens. Run-off areas will catch anything that misses them, so solid iron play and a deft touch to recover from any mistakes are crucial. That should sound like music to the ears of Jordan Spieth.
The Masters champion has risen to number two in the world so is the highest ranked player in the field this week. He was frustrated at his hometown tournament last week and narrowly missed out on victory the week before. Still, his game has looked great for the vast majority of this season and this is a track that should see him flourish. He’s the favourite with every single book but is by no means unbackable at 8/1 with Coral. The 21-year-old will take some beating this week.
Rickie Fowler roared back into the winner’s circle at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Last week he played at Royal County Down in the Irish Open where he faced some horrific weather conditions and a course that beat up everybody who played on it. The world number nine will much prefer the weather this week as he looks to take on the manicured Muirfield Village course. None of his individual stats jump out but his all-round game is very strong at the moment and he showed at the Players that he is capable of some scintillating golf when it is called for so he makes an interesting case at 25/1 with Coral.
The third young gun to back for victory this week is the defending champion, Hideki Matsuyama. He won on debut last year, shooting sub 70 rounds three times before holding off Kevin Na in a nerve jangling playoff. He will have to cope with the pressure and expectations placed on the shoulders of title defenders but his game is rock solid. The 25/1 shot with Coral is ranked second in shots gained from tee-to-green, ninth in greens hit in regulation and 10th in total scrambling on Tour this year. They are all good indications of success. Matsuyama is primed for his defence…and your betting slips.