Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament taking place at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.
2021/2022 US PGA Tour
Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
The PGA Tour heads to Ohio
Last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge ended in exhilarating fashion, with Sam Burns overcoming World Number One Scottie Scheffler in a nail-biting play-off. The tour now moves to Ohio for one of my personal favourite events: the Memorial.
It was the venue for one of last year’s most melodramatic incidents. Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw from last year’s Memorial due to a positive Covid test. The twist is that he was leading by six shots going into the final round (Patrick Cantlay would go on to benefit from his massive misfortune).
Weaker minds would have been destroyed by that. But Rahm harnessed that disappointment and would go on to claim his maiden Major at the US Open just two weeks later.
Precision should be key this week
First staged in 1976, the Memorial is an invitational event that always includes a stellar field. It is the brainchild of legend Jack Nicklaus and this will be the 47th edition.
Designed by the ‘Golden Bear’ himself, Muirfield was actually built in 1974. It is named after his favourite Open Championship venue and Nicklaus relentlessly tinkers with it.
The last four winners seem to suggest that power is king around Muirfield. But that is slightly misleading. While the fairways look fairly generous, the rough- a mixture of Kentucky Bluegrass, fescue and rye- is quite penal.
I think it’s more important to be accurate from the tee this week. But the key this week will be approach. The smaller-than-average Bentgrass greens require precision from the fairway. Players also need to chip brilliantly this week. These greens are notoriously quick and require a deft touch.
Rahm seeking to dispell 2021’s Memorial memories
Jon Rahm will be bidding to erase the memories of last year and add to his 2020 Memorial title. Rahm hasn’t really been himself this year (despite victory at the Mexico Championship). Is it unfair for me to say that the Spaniard needs to look at his conditioning?
I know that Seve Ballesteros wasn’t always the pinnacle of physical fitness. But the modern golfer is a different beast to 30 years ago.
Defending champion Patrick Cantlay is a course specialist in desperate need of some momentum. He missed the cut at the US PGA Championship and he just hasn’t looked himself this year.
Rory McIlroy is in excellent form despite failing in his bid to tame Southern Hills. Elsewhere, the likes of Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa should threaten with their distance control.
I’m also glad to see the up-and-coming Davis Riley in action again (he came through for me rather nicely last week). All in all, this should be a wonderful event sandwiched in between the 2nd and 3rd Majors of the year.
2021: Patrick Cantlay (-13) *playoff
2020: Jon Rahm (-9)
2019: Patrick Cantlay (-19)
2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-15) *playoff
2017: Jason Dufner (-13)
To Win Outright
Jon Rahm 9/1 | Rory McIlroy 11/1 | Patrick Cantlay 16/1 | Jordan Spieth 20/1 | Xander Schauffele 20/1
Shane Lowry- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2
There are few players in the field who have been as consistent as former Open champion Shane Lowry. In his last 11 worldwide starts, Lowry hasn’t been outside the top 35 once. This includes three top-three finishes. He was in contention for large portions of the PGA Championship and he seems to be finding his touch at this critical time of the year. And that’s one of the chief reasons I’m backing him this week: touch. Lowry has a beautiful touch around the greens- as evidenced by his T6 last year. He was in much worse shape last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to find his name near the top of the leaderboard this week.
Rickie Fowler- To Win 100/1 | To Place 22/1
Rickie Fowler seems to be showing signs of his old self of late. He has made his last three cuts and has gained 0.39 shots per round on approach (which should prove vital this week). But the thing that really catches my eye with Fowler is his course history. He has four top 15 finishes in his last five years at Muirfield Village (which includes a runner-up finish). I just think there’s value in backing Fowler to place this week.
The Man to Beat- Rory McIlroy- To Win 11/1 | To Place 24/10
McIlroy will have benefitted from a week off following another close call at Southern Hills. But I just can’t ignore his current form. In nine worldwide starts this calendar year, McIlroy has only finished outside the top 13 twice. Sure, that doesn’t exactly rival Scottie Scheffler’s current hot streak. But it does speak to the fact that there is plenty to like about Rory’s game at present. Top 10 finishes at the Masters and PGA Championship point towards his quality. He just needs to tighten up those wedges and take advantage of scoring opportunities.