Featured Groups: Bubba's back on a (very) big stage

May 30, 2012

Here's a look at this week's Featured Groups at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. For a complete list of all groups and tee times, click here. Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Let us know.

Tee times
Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson Rd. 1: 1:05 p.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 8:15 a.m. ET (10th tee)

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Two of the four "Golf Boys" and a third player more comfortable making instructional, not music, videos are one of the Memorial Tournament's featured groups in the first two rounds.


Bubba Watson, playing for just the second time since he won the Masters, is paired with Rickie Fowler, who picked up his first PGA TOUR victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. The third member of their group, the non-dancer, Phil Mickelson, picked up his fourth career win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and the 40th of his career.

The group tees off No. 1 at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday and No. 10 at 8:15 a.m. on Friday.

Watson has quite a streak going in 2012. He has four top-10 finishes, including that emotional win at Augusta National, and has yet to finish lower than 18th in nine starts this season.

Watson's record at Muirfield Village, though, isn't stellar. He's never finished higher than 23rd, which he's done twice, in 2007 and '09, although he's only missed one cut.

"I've been here every year that I've been in the field and I'm looking forward to the challenge," Watson said. "... I haven't really fared as well as I want to here but hopefully it can come together one time and I can play good."

Judging from his stats, this could be the year. As expected, Watson leads the PGA TOUR in driving distance with an average of 315 yards. He's also first in greens in regulation with an average of 74.3 and ranks second in birdies, ninth in scoring and eighth all-around.

Interview: Bubba Watson

The 2012 Masters champion prepares for his first start since the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Mickelson has played in 12 Memorial Tournaments without a victory, but he does have a string of six top-10 finishes in his last seven starts. His best was a tie for fourth in 2006, when Carl Pettersson won.

The newly-inducted World Golf Hall of Famer has five top-10 finishes in 2012, including a runner-up finish in a playoff loss at the Northern Trust Open and a tie for third at the Masters, where he rebounded from a triple bogey at the fourth hole. Mickelson tied for seventh at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in his last start.

Like Mickelson, Fowler has a solid track record at Muirfield Village. He finished second to Justin Rose in his debut and tied for 22nd last season.

The popular Fowler been one of the TOUR's hottest players in the last month. He tied for 10th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, then beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff in Charlotte, tied for second at THE PLAYERS and shared fifth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Tee times
Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Bill Haas Rd. 1: 8:15 a.m. ET (10th tee) Rd. 2: 1:05 p.m. ET (1st tee)

This featured group showcases the newly-named Presidents Cup Captain in Fred Couples, back for a third stint at the helm, and two of the players he took to Australia in November as the U.S. won for the seventh time.


Adding to the allure of the marquee group, which tees off the 10th tee on Thursday at 8:15 a.m. and the first on Friday at 1:05 p.m. The 2013 Presidents Cup will be held at Muirfield Village.

Woods will be looking to get back on track on a layout that's been very accommodating for him. He is a four-time champion at the Memorial -- winning three straight after Couples' 1998 win at Muirfield Village and beating Jim Furyk by a shot in 2009.

Woods picked up his 72nd victory earlier this year, ending a 30-month victory drought, at Bay Hill, where he has now won seven times. In three starts since that victory, though, Woods has tied for 40th twice and missed just the eighth cut of his career at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Couples will be playing at the Memorial for the 21st time and he has two runners-up and one third-place among his six top-10s. Couples, whose best finish in three starts on the PGA TOUR this year is a tie for 12th at the Masters, already has one win on the Champions Tour in 2012.

Haas hasn't had a lot of success at Muirfield Village, with a tie for 30th in 2008 his best finish. He picked up his fourth PGA TOUR victory earlier this year, though, edging Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a playoff at storied Riviera.

Other Featured Groups
Carl Pettersson, Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel Rd. 1: 8:04 a.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 12:54 p.m. ET (10th tee)
Surprisingly, Pettersson (RBC Heritage) is the only one who has won this year on TOUR. Both Simpson and Schwartzel had hot starts to the season, but have cooled off. Simpson is making his first start since missing the cut at THE PLAYERS.
Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott Rd. 1: 12:54 p.m. ET (10th tee) Rd. 2: 8:04 a.m. ET (1st)
Plenty of eyes will be on Johnson's return to competition, but keep an eye on Snedeker. He's without a top-10 finish in a stroke-play tournament since his stirring comeback win over Kyle Stanley at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

The victory was part of a solid start that saw Haas finish 20th or better in four of his first five tournaments, including a tie for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open. In eight starts since, though, his best finish is a tie for 25th at THE PLAYERS, so Haas will be hoping to get back on track this week.