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.
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