Power Rankings: Memorial Tournamenttext sizeMay 27, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM fantasy columnist
Since its inception in 1976, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance has paid tribute to the greats in the game of golf. The list is a who's who of the influential throughout history. However, this year's tone carries with it an additional literal meaning.
This year's honoree is Ray Floyd. He's a World Golf Hall of Fame member and winner of the Memorial in 1982. His wife of 38 years, Maria, passed away late last summer. Then, late this past winter, Memorial co-founder Bo Hoag died in Columbus at the age of 83. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus forged a relationship with Hoag when Nicklaus was just 13 years of age. In early March, Nicklaus said of Hoag to The Columbus Dispatch, "[He was] one of the best friends a guy could ever have. We played golf together, fished together, traveled the world together. We created Muirfield Village together."
Nicklaus collaborated with Desmond Muirhead for the design. Appropriately dedicated on Memorial Day in 1974 (May 27), it joined the PGA TOUR schedule as one of the longer tracks of its time at 7,027 yards. After several tweaks and enhancements since, par-72 Muirfield Village currently registers at 7,352 yards on the scorecard with the full allotment of par 3s and par 5s. Three of the par 5s are immediately followed by a par 3. The remaining par 5 immediately follows the other par 3, and all golfers begin and end their rounds on par 4s regardless on which tee they start -- No. 1 or 10.
Hitting fairways is never atop Nicklaus' order of priorities when shaping a course, and Muirfield Village is no exception. Of the four times in TOUR history that a golfer has played 72 holes without missing a fairway, it's occurred thrice on this property. Indeed, it's a second-shot golf course with an additional premium on short game.
Muirfield Village ranked seventh-lowest in greens hit in 2012 at 58.05 percent. Adding to the challenge is that it checked in at fifth in scrambling (51.61%) and fifth in conversion percentage (85.52) inside 10 feet. Its scoring average of 73.677 was second-highest among par 72s in non-majors. Contributing to the split was a TOUR-high 3.24 average on the par 3s.
Undulating greens average 5,000 square feet and are prepared to reach 13 on the Stimpmeter. Several in the field not only will be vying for the title, but they'll be making notes in advance of the Presidents Cup, which will be contested at Muirfield Village in just over four months.
While the Memorial serves as the PGA TOUR's first stop in the annual migration north, the weather won't reflect the change in latitude. High temperatures in the upper 80s will be the norm until a potentially sudden cooling on Sunday. Dry conditions will allow the course to play as expected until a threat of rain enters the picture on the weekend. Winds are forecast to gradually intensify throughout the week.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners, please look for "Stats Suggest" in the Stats Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance Rank Player Comment Tiger WOODS Defending champ has five wins and another three top 5s in 13 visits. Four times a winner in 2013, including his last start at THE PLAYERS. Tops on TOUR in strokes gained-putting, adjusted scoring and a number of other relevant stats. Matt KUCHAR Runner-up at Colonial where he led after both 36 and 54 holes. Third in FedExCup points. Ranks 14th in scrambling, 25th in strokes gained-putting and eight in adjusted scoring. Top 10s in his last four trips to Muirfield Village. Adam SCOTT The Masters champ is making just his seventh start on the season. Tied for 19th in his last at THE PLAYERS. If he logged enough rounds to qualify for official rankings, he'd sit second in adjusted scoring. Two top 5s at Muirfield Village. Justin ROSE The 2010 champ sits fourth in all-time earnings at Muirfield Village with the support of four other top 15s. Ranks third in total driving, 11th in greens in regulation, sixth in adjusted scoring, eighth in scrambling and first in sand saves. Keegan BRADLEY Rested after a solo runner-up performance at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his best finish of the season. At ninth in FedExCup points, he's the only inside the top 10 without a win. Ranks 11th in adjusted scoring average. Brandt SNEDEKER He's 0-for-5 at Muirfield Village, but he's striking his irons better than ever without sacrificing form on the greens. Currently 12th on TOUR in greens in regulation and 14th in strokes gained-putting. Also fifth in adjusted scoring. Webb SIMPSON Took two weeks off following a career-best T15 at THE PLAYERS. Three top 10s and another five top 25s on the season. Best finish in four trips to Muirfield Village is a T7 in 2011. Ranks 24th in adjusted scoring; 30th in the all-around. Rory McILROY Missed the cut at Wentworth last week, but had connected four top 25s on U.S. soil beforehand. Finished T10 at Muirfield Village in 2010 and solo fifth in 2011. Missed last year's cut when he admittedly lost the handle on his focus. Ernie ELS Making his 20th consecutive start at Muirfield Village. He's posted top 15s in half of them, including a victory in 2004. In his last seven starts worldwide this year, he's logged five top 15s, including a T6 at last week's BMW PGA Championship. Luke DONALD Making ninth appearance; top 15s in his last four. Missed cut as the two-time defending champion at last week's BMW PGA Championship. Sits 19th on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting and 12th in adjusted scoring. Charl SCHWARTZEL Comes off a rare missed cut; one too high at Colonial. He's 5-for-5 at Muirfield Village with progressively better results topped by a T19 last year. Ranks T35 in greens hit, 28th in strokes gained-putting and first in three-putt avoidance. Lee WESTWOOD While he failed to finish strong at Wentworth, his T9 at the BMW PGA Championship is his fifth straight top 10 worldwide. Hasn't played the Memorial since a T29 in his debut in 2003. Ranks 15th on the PGA TOUR in adjusted scoring. Billy HORSCHEL First-timer at Muirfield Village. First start since missing the cut at THE PLAYERS, which ended his much-ballyhooed consecutive cuts made streak. Five top 10s on the season. Tenth in strokes gained-putting; T4 in par-4 scoring. Graham DeLaet Faded on Sunday at Colonial with a 74 to finish T22, but has three top 10s and another four top 25s this season. Currently second on TOUR in both total driving and greens hit. Also 13th in proximity and 26th in adjusted scoring. Jimmy WALKER Arrives in Columbus ranked 15th in FedExCup points thanks to four top 10s and another four top 25s. Owns a TOUR-high 23 consecutive cuts made. Ranks 28th in greens hit, 24th in strokes gained-putting and 10th in adjusted scoring.