Well we had another week with some close calls but no winner. 24-year-old rookie Keegan Bradley took the title, winning in a playoff over Ryan Palmer. Once again the HP Byron Nelson Championship was exciting week of golf. This week the Tour moves from Texas to Ohio, where the players will compete in The Memorial. The Memorial is played at Muirfield Village Golf Club and is hosted by the legend Jack Nicklaus.
This event holds high prestige with the players, as it is Jacks tournament, resulting in the top players all teeing it up this week. Many players also use The Memorial tournament as a tune up for the US Open (June 16th-19th). We are going to use it as a way to get those accounts nice and full for the US Open. Let’s look a little closer at the track that will test the PGA Tour Pros this week.
Muirfield Village Golf Club is a brilliantly designed 7265-yard, Par 72 golf course. In 1974 Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead combined to design one of the best courses played on Tour. The course was officially introduced when Jack Nicklaus played Tom Weiskopf in a match on Memorial Day in 1974.
Today the players play on a course that has been slightly altered but still holds the same course vision that it was designed with. Muirfield is the type of course that gives professionals problems if any type of windy conditions occurs. In 2010 it ranked as the 6th hardest course played on tour (based on scoring average).
The reason the course plays so difficult is the way Jack envisioned and designed it. The course is played today with 75 well placed bunkers and water that comes into play on 11 different holes. Look for players to be challenged on the large undulating greens that are also home to many subtle breaks.
My favorite hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club is the Par 3 184 yard 12th Hole. The players tee off over a very large pond and hit at a two-tier green. If you miss this oddly shaped green there is a high probability the ball will either be in one of the two bunkers or the water. Large throngs of fans will line this hole, as it is sure to bless them with plenty of entertainment.
As I stated before, we have the worlds best coming this week to play in Jack’s tournament. We have 6 of the top 10 players in the World Golf Rankings and 9 of the Top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list competing this week. With such a stacked field we can be assured that the cream of the crop will rise up the leader board as the week progresses.
Last years champion Justin Rose will be back to defend his title this week along with 7 other past champions. Kenny Perry, KJ Choi, Carl Pettersson, Ernie Els, Jim Fuyrk, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh are the other past champions who will be teeing it up this week.
Look for the players who can keep the ball in the fairway and hit plenty of Greens in Regulation this week to succeed. It may seem like a repetitive thing on Tour but I cannot stress how important it is to hit Greens in Regulation. The Tour is home to a plethora of talented putters and the player who has the most opportunities at birdie usually does very well in the tournament.
Steves Six Pack
We need a win here this week before the US Open and I like our chances with this six-pack.
Matt Kuchar – 18/1 – Kuch is as solid of a player as you will find on Tour. He hits the ball in the fairway, hits greens in regulation and he scores well. Kuch currently sits 2nd on Tour in scoring average at 69.67, only slightly behind 1st place Luke Donald. Look for Kuch to have a great week at a course that he has posted Top 10’s in his last 3 appearances at.
Rory McIlroy – 28/1 – Oh Rory, what could have been if you had closed out that final round at the Masters? People remember the terrible finish he had but they are soon to forget that this youngster dominated the tournament for 3 rounds. This week Rory will be on a course with difficult greens and one that puts a premium on hitting Greens in Regulation. Sound familiar?
Rickie Fowler – 38/1 – I debated a bit with this pick but the kid has so much game. Not to mention he finished 2nd to Justin Rose last year and would have won the tournament had it not been for a 73 on the final day. Fowler sits 1st in the Par 3 Birdie or better stats and 5th in the Par 4 Birdie or better stats. The winning score was –18 last year, so why not take a guy who makes a ton of birdies (and loves this course)?
Justin Rose – 42/1 – Won last years Memorial tournament by 3 shots and closed with a beautiful final round 66. Rose is a very solid golfer and I feel is one of the best in the world. Rose sits 3rd on the PGA Tour in Greens in Regulation, hitting almost 72% of the greens. Rose would win a lot more tournaments if his putter would cooperate with him. But he seems to know these greens pretty well so I like his chances!
Bubba Watson 40/1 – He hits it a mile and leads the Tour in Greens in Regulation. Bubba loves to have fun on Tour and makes a ton of birdies. Does not have the greatest track record here but has been playing well as of late, making 7 straight cuts. He has already won twice on Tour this year and I look at Muirfield as a perfect place to make it 3.
Bill Haas – 55/1 – Haas is another one of those solid players who does everything right. He hits the ball straight and long off the tee (17th in total driving). He hits plenty of Greens in Regulation (5th on Tour at almost 71%). Haas only needs to find a way to play the Par 3s better. He currently ranks 2nd on Par 4 Performance and 5th on Par 5 performance (only 108th on Par 3 performance). Look for Haas to manage the Par 3’s this week and take advantage of the 4’s and 5’s.
Good Luck to everyone and enjoy the winner this week!